Johnson: McConnell doesn’t ‘speak for the conference’ on Trump’s culpability for riot

Sen. Ron Johnson said Tuesday that Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's excoriation on Saturday of former President Donald Trump put him out of step with the GOP caucus he leads.

McConnell voted Saturday to acquit Trump on the single article of impeachment brought by the House of Representatives accusing the former president of inciting the deadly Jan. 6 riot at the Capitol. But in remarks on the Senate floor, the minority leader called Trump "practically and morally responsible" for the riot and explained that he voted to acquit only because he believed that the Constitution does not allow for the Senate to convict a former president.

Johnson (R-Wis.) said Tuesday that McConnell's position on Trump put the minority leader at odds with the bulk of his own party.

"From my standpoint, Leader McConnell speaks for himself," Johnson said in a Tuesday interview with The Ross Kaminsky Show. "In this case, I don’t believe he speaks for the conference, and I think he needs to be a little careful. You know when I speak, I do actually try and take in mind how it might reflect on the party."

Johnson also said that he doesn't believe McConnell's comments are reflective of what "the vast majority of Republican senators" feel.

The Senate acquitted Trump on Saturday with 57 lawmakers voting to convict the president — 10 short of the required number — and 43 voting against. The vote was nonetheless historic, marking the first time in more than 150 years that more than half of the Senate voted to convict a president on impeachment charges.

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Leahy promises ‘fairness to all’ in presiding over impeachment trial

Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy, the chamber's president pro tempore, on Tuesday pledged fairness and an equal say for Senate lawmakers as he presides over the impeachment trial of former President Donald Trump.

"My intention and solemn obligation is to conduct this trial with fairness to all," Leahy wrote in a letter to his Senate colleagues. "I will adhere, as have my predecessors in the Senate who have presided over impeachment trials, to the Constitution and to applicable Senate rules, precedent, and governing resolutions."

Leahy also promised to be guided by Senate precedent and to consult the Parliamentarian on the occasion of a motion, objection or request put before him.

Leahy, the chamber's longest serving Democrat, will preside over the impeachment trial, which began Tuesday afternoon. Any decision he makes as the trial's presiding officer is subject to review by the whole Senate, he said in the letter. He will also submit any constitutional questions brought up by the trial to the entire Senate.

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