Mitch McConnell is not pressuring fellow GOP members to acquit Trump, limiting his remarks to procedure and timeline.
GOP Senators have discussed the trial and their individual views at lunch meetings, while McConnell remains quiet.
“He’s never really talked about it to us,” said Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.). “Mitch is a very good tactician … but he’s also very respectful that every senator got here on their own.”
Rob Portman (R-OH), an adviser to McConnell says he hasn’t made a decision yet, and wasn’t getting any pressure from Mitch.
“I don’t think I’ve gotten any guidance,” Portman said. “Colleagues have stood up and expressed their views, but they’re not representing leadership. … [McConnell] has said, ‘I think this is a vote of conscience.’”
McConnell himself says he is undecided, and reiterated that thought on Wednesday.
“I want to listen to the arguments. I think that’s what we ought to do. That’s what I said before it started. That’s still my view,” McConnell said.
Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) said that while it wouldn’t be appropriate to tell reporters what McConnell has said, the Republican leader “hasn’t really told us to do anything.”
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), McConnell’s No. 2, acknowledged conversations but said there was no effort to persuade undecided senators.
As many as half a dozen GOP senators are likely to vote for impeachment, and include Romney, Murkowski, Sasse, Collins, and Toomey.
Bill Cassidy (R-LA) voted on Tuesday for impeachment to proceed, and was facing immediate backlash in Louisiana, including threats of censure. But Cassidy was not backing down Wednesday, stating that he took an oath to uphold the Constitution.
He took careful notes on a legal pad on Wednesday and was seen shaking his head when the House managers showed video of a rioter Richard “Bigo” Barnett, who was armed with a stun gun, showing off an envelope he swiped from Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) office.