Who is Mitch McConnell And Where Does He Stand On Impeachment?

Meet the Majority Leader who will draft the rules for Trump’s impeachment trial.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gives members of the media a thumbs up as he leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky. gives members of the media a thumbs up as he leaves the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill, in Washington, Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Who is Mitch McConnell?

Mitch McConnell, a Republican, is the Majority Leader in the United States Senate. He also serves as Kentucky’s senior Senator. First elected to the Upper Chamber in 1984, McConnell has been the longest-serving Senator in Kentucky’s history.

In 2003, McConnell served as Majority Whip and was elected Senate Minority Leader in 2006. When Republicans took control of the Senate in 2015 he served as Majority Leader. In a 2019 series in Time Magazine, “100 Most Influential People,” former Speaker of the House John Bohner wrote an article about McConnell.

In 1964 McConnell graduated with a BA in political science from the University of Louisville and, in 1967 graduated from the University of Kentucky College of Law. He served as Deputy Assistant Attorney General under President Gerald Ford in 1974 and was elected Jefferson County Judge/Executive in 1977.

What are Mitch McConnell’s views on impeachment?

Mitch McConnell has been a vocal critic of efforts to impeach President Donald Trump in 2019. On December 17, McConnell told reporters, "I'm not an impartial juror. This is a political process. There's not anything judicial about it. The House made a partisan political decision to impeach. I would anticipate, we will have a largely partisan outcome in the Senate. I'm not impartial about this at all."

In a campaign ad first aired on October 5, McConnell said, "Nancy Pelosi's in the clutches of a left-wing mob. They finally convinced her to impeach the president. All of you know your Constitution. The way that impeachment stops is a Senate majority with me as majority leader.”

On December 18, 2019, Democrats voted to approve articles of impeachment against Trump. The Republican-controlled Senate will hold a subsequent trial to determine if Trump will be removed from office.

On November 13, reporters asked McConnell if he would consider dismissing an impeachment trial out of hand. He said, “The rules of impeachment are very clear when it comes to the trial. My own view is that we should give people an opportunity to put the case on. The House will have presenters; the president will no doubt be represented by lawyers as well.”

Just six days later, McConnell told reporters that “It’s inconceivable to me there would be 67 votes to remove the president from office.”

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On December 3, McConnell said, “The first thing Senator Schumer and I will do is see if there’s a possibility of agreement on a procedure. That failing, I would probably come back to my own members and say, ‘OK, can 51 of us agree how we’re going to handle this?’” On December 17, McConnell rejected Schumer’s requests to allow witnesses to testify at the trial.

McConnell said that he was coordinating with the White House in a Fox News interview on December 12. He said, “Everything I do during this, I’m coordinating with White House Counsel. There will be no difference between the President’s position and our position as to how to handle this.”

Congressman Hakeem Jeffries criticized the comments, “In other words, the jury – Senate Republicans – are going to coordinate with the defendant – Donald Trump – on how exactly the kangaroo court is going to be run.”

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Where does Mitch McConnell stand with Donald Trump?

McConnell did not endorse Donald Trump during the 2016 Republican primaries. He supported fellow Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. When Paul withdrew from the race in February 2016 McConnell formally endorsed candidate Trump.

In May 2016, McConnell criticized Trump’s bigoted attack on a Federal Judge. Referring to Gonzalo P. Curiel, the judge who oversaw the Trump University lawsuit, then-candidate Trump told campaign rally-goers, “The judge, who happens to be, we believe, Mexican, which is great, I think that’s fine. You know what? I think the Mexicans are going to end up loving Donald Trump when I give all these jobs, OK?”

McConnell said, "I don't agree with what he (Trump) had to say. This is a man who was born in Indiana. All of us came here from somewhere else."

In July of the same year, McConnell criticized Trump’s attacks on the Gold Star parents of fallen US soldier Humayun Kahn. "All Americans should value the patriotic service of the patriots who volunteer to selflessly defend us in the armed services,” McConnell said.

In October 2016, McConnell called on Trump to apologize for disparaging remarks about women in an Access Hollywood tape. McConnell said, "As the father of three daughters, I strongly believe that Trump needs to apologize directly to women and girls everywhere, and take full responsibility for the utter lack of respect for women shown in his comments on that tape."

Prior to the election, it was clear McConnell hoped that Trump would change. He said the choice for Republicans between Hilliary Clinton and Donald Trump “is not a happy choice”. McConnell told Bloomberg podcast host Betsy Fischer, "But I think it's pretty clear, I've been very clear publicly, about how I think he ought to change directions. And I hope that's what we're going to see."

Trump did not change after being elected president, although he did nominate McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao as Transportation Secretary. Following a murderous white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, VA and with Chao standing behind him, Trump told reporters, “But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”

McConnell, opting to avoid a public feud with the president, tapered his response in a written statement, ”There are no good neo-Nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms.”

Subsequently, in an effort to normalize this president and serve his political agenda, McConnell worked closely with Trump to appoint and confirm dozens of conservative judges, including SCOTUS justices Neil Gorsuch and Brett Kavanaugh.

Although McConnell gained a decades-long reputation as an effective, political tactician, his credibility diminished in July 2017. After the GOP failed to repeal the Affordable Care Act over five dozen times, Trump was poised to fulfill a campaign promise to crush President Obama’s signature legislative act. If not for Senator John McCain’s thumbs down, “no” vote on the floor of the Senate they would have succeeded. McConnell was unable to whip the crucial votes necessary to secure a Republican victory. In August Trump aggressively encouraged McConnell to try again. Trump tweeted: “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!”

In 2018, Trump and McConnell attended a rally in Richmond, Kentucky. The president told rally goers that McConnell is “Kentucky trough” and that he is “one of the most powerful men in the world.” McConnell asked the crowd, “Aren’t we proud of President Trump?”

In February 2019 McConnell supported Trump’s declaration of a National Emergency to redirect funds to build a wall at the southern border. The Senate Majority Leader also spearheaded Trump’s efforts to pass the GOP’s tax cut as well as a plethora of regulatory rollbacks. McConnell told NPR, “There are many things that he's (Trump) willing to go along with that are consistent with what members of my party have thought for years ought to be done.”

To date, the Senate Majority Leader has stalled 332 bills, passed by the Democratic-controlled House of Representatives. Although it’s not unusual for the Senate to block dozens of pieces of House legislation, McConnell’s efforts have served the President’s policy initiatives and personal interests.

For example, Securing America’s Federal Elections Act, legislation to help safeguard elections from foreign interference, is stalled in the Senate. In an ABC News interview, President Trump said he would accept information about a political opponent from a foreign government.

Passage of the No Junk Plans Act and the Protecting Americans with Preexisting Conditions Act would disrupt Trump’s efforts to nullify the Affordable Care Act.

The American Miners Act, legislation to protect coal miners' pensions, would embarrass the president while S. Res. 97, legislation to establish a Select Committee on the Climate Crisis would offend him.

Which committees does Mitch McConnell belong to?

The Senate Majority Leader continues to serve on the Agriculture, Appropriations, Rules and Intelligence committees.

  • 2019-2020
    • Committee on Intelligence
    • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Members
    • Committee on Appropriations Members
    • Committee on Rules and Administration Members
  • 2017-2018
    • Committee on Intelligence
    • Committee on Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Members
    • Committee on Appropriations
    Committee on Rules Administration
  • 2015-2017
    • Select Committee on Intelligence
    • Agriculture, Nutrition, and Forestry Committee
    • Subcommittee on Conservation, Forestry and Natural Resources
    • Subcommittee on Livestock, Marketing and Agriculture Security
    • Subcommittee on Nutrition, Specialty Crops, and Agricultural Research
    • Rules and Administration Committee
McConnell was chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee from 1997-2001.

Mitch McConnell’s Record In The Senate

A moderate, Republican politician early in his career, McConnell moved toward the right over time. Alec MacGillis, a reporter for ProPublica said that McConnell transformed "from a moderate Republican who supported abortion rights and public employee unions to the embodiment of partisan obstructionism and conservative orthodoxy on Capitol Hill."

In October 2010, McConnell said that “the single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”

Although McConnell’s efforts to deny Obama a second term failed, he successfully denied the 44th president a Supreme Court appointment. Shortly after Justice Antonin Scalia unexpectedly passed away in February 2016, President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court. McConnell stymied and ultimately sunk the nomination by refusing to hold a Senate confirmation hearing for the nominee.

In 2018, he said that blocking Garland’s nomination was the most “consequential decision I’ve made in my entire public career.” The SCOTUS seat remained open until President Trump appointed conservative judge Neil Gorsuch to the bench, and subsequently, Brett Kavanaugh was confirmed, handing conservatives a solid 5-4 bench majority.

April 2019, McConnell criticized the Green New Deal and Medicare for All. He said that if he’s still Senate Majority Leader in 2020 "none of those things are going to pass the Senate. They won't even be voted on. So think of me as the Grim Reaper. None of that stuff is going to pass. None of it.”

A climate change denialist since 1992, McConnell is quoted as saying "no conclusive evidence of significant long-term global warming". In 2014 he said, “For everybody who thinks it's warming, I can find somebody who thinks it isn't."

In 2010, McConnell voted against the Zadroga Act, legislation to guarantee funding for medical treatment for 9/11 first responders. He later refused to support a subsequent bill to replenish the funds unless compromises were made to unrelated pieces of legislation.

In 1990, McConnell led a filibuster against campaign finance reform that eventually culminated in the Supreme Court Case, McConnell v. Federal Election Commission and the 2009 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission cases.

McConnell introduced the Protect America Act of 2007. The legislation allowed the National Security Agency to monitor electronic communications of suspected terrorists outside the US without a warrant.

McConnell voted to build a fence on the Mexican/US border in 2006. He opposed a bipartisan immigration bill drafted in 2013 that offered a path to citizenship for millions of undocumented immigrants.

A strong advocate of gun rights and the 2nd Amendment, McConnell enjoys a 93% rating with the National Rifle Association. He voted against background checks for gun purchases on April 17, 2013. He accused Democrats of politicizing gun violence after the June 2016 mass shooting at the Orlando nightclub and the October 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas.

In September of 2019, in the wake of mass shootings in Texas and Ohio, McConnell told talk radio host Hugh Hewitt that he would bring gun control legislation to the floor if President Trump would support it. “I said several weeks ago that if the president took a position on a bill so that we knew we would actually be making a law and not just having serial votes, I’d be happy to put it on the floor. If the president is in favor of a number of things that he has discussed openly and publicly, and I know that if we pass it, it’ll become law, I’ll put it on the floor.”

When is Mitch McConnell up for re-election?

McConnell is up for reelection on November 3, 2020. He also faces a Republican opponent, C. Wesley Morgan, in a primary election on May 19, 2020.

If McConnell prevails in the Republican contest he will face one of six candidates competing for the Democratic candidacy. Amy McGrath, a former Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel is the current frontrunner.

In 2014 McConnell beat Alison Lundergan Grimes with 56.2% of the vote. He defeated Bruce Lunsford in 2008 with 53% of the vote and Lois Combs Weinberg in 2002 with 64.7% of the vote.

McConnell was first elected to the US Senate in 1984. He defeated Walter “Dee” Huddleston by just over 5,000 votes. He was the first Kentucky Republican to win a statewide election since 1968.

Personal details about Mitch McConnell

  • Age: 77
  • Birthday: February 20, 1942
  • Religion: Baptist
  • Spouse: Elaine Chao
  • Hometown: Sheffield, Alabama
  • Education: University of Louisville (BA), University of Kentucky (JD)
  • Twitter: @senatemajldr

The Rantt Rundown

Mitch McConnell, the US Senate Majority Leader is considered one of the most reliably conservative voices in the Upper Chamber. Although McConnell’s relationship with President Donald Trump is complicated, his efforts to support and protect the chief executive are aggressive and effective. Packing the US court system with conservative judges is his proudest professional achievement. Polling just over 18% locally, McConnell faces a tough reelection challenge in Kentucky.

Rantt 101 // Congress / Mitch McConnell / Senate