S Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Monday that his chamber would have “no choice” but to hold an impeachment trial against President Donald Trump if the House of Representatives passed articles charging the latter with crimes.
“I would have no choice but to take it up, based on a Senate rule on impeachment,” McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, told the US media in an interview on Monday.
The remarks affirmed that the Republican-controlled Senate will not shun consideration of the articles of impeachment, should any pass the House as a result of the ongoing investigation into whether a phone call between Trump and his Ukrainian counterpart mounted to an impeachable offence.
The House of Representatives announced last week to launch impeachment investigations, after a whistleblower’s complaint alerted lawmakers about the phone call made on July 25.
According to a description of the content of the phone call released by the White House, Trump said he would like the Ukrainian government to investigate a corruption allegation against Hunter Biden, son of former Vice President and current Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden.
The request raised concerns among many in the US that by seeking foreign effort to undermine one of his top political opponents, Trump was opening doors to foreign intervention to the upcoming presidential election.
Trump has denied the allegation, calling the impeachment effort “the greatest witch hunt in the history of our country”.
According to US impeachment rules, if a simple majority of House members vote in favour of impeaching a sitting president, the case moves to the Senate, where two-thirds of the vote is needed to remove the sitting president.
With Republicans, who are largely supportive of Trump, in the majority in the Senate, it will be difficult to garner 67 votes for Trump’s removal.
Two former US Presidents, Andrew Johnson and Bill Clinton, were impeached by the House of Representatives, but both were acquitted in the subsequent trials held by the Senate.
Another President, Richard Nixon, resigned as Congress was set to impeach him after the Watergate scandal.