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McConnell tells GOP colleagues he will vote to acquit Trump

The Senate minority leader's move is a sign of how those in his party will vote, suggesting that the threshold needed to convict Trump will not be met.
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WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote to acquit former President Donald Trump in his second impeachment trial, according to an email the Kentucky Republican sent to his GOP colleagues and obtained by NBC News.

"While a close call, I am persuaded that impeachments are a tool primarily of removal and we therefore lack jurisdiction," McConnell wrote.

McConnell had been tight-lipped throughout the process about how he would vote and, as the most influential Republican on Capitol Hill, his announcement that he will vote to acquit Trump for incitement of insurrection is a strong sign for how other members of the party will vote. Politico was first to report the news.

McConnell said in his email that criminal prosecution of the former president remains an option.

"The Constitution makes perfectly clear that Presidential criminal misconduct while in office can be prosecuted after the President has left office, which in my view alleviates the otherwise troubling 'January exception' argument raised by the House," he wrote.

McConnell also said that he continues to view the trial vote as a "vote of conscience" but felt he should share his intentions with colleagues ahead of time after a number of Senate Republicans had directly asked him how he planned to vote.

The trial is expected to reconvene at 10a.m. ET on Saturday and a vote could come as soon as the afternoon, depending on whether the House impeachment managers decide to request a vote to call witnesses.

Sixty-seven votes are needed in order to convict Trump.

Some Democrats were hopeful earlier this week that their Republican colleagues could be persuaded to hold the former president accountable after six Republicans voted to proceed with the impeachment trial.

The six Republicans were Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Mitt Romney of Utah, Ben Sasse of Nebraska and Patrick Toomey of Pennsylvania