Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) is making it clear that he will not support Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as the Senate Republican leader if McConnell supports the conviction in the Senate of former President Donald Trump.
“No, no, no,” Johnson told CNN when asked if he could support McConnell if he voted to convict McConnell. Johnson also called the Senate trial “a dangerous precedent.”
Johnson, a die-hard supporter of Trump who supported the former president’s conspiracy theories about the 2020 presidential election with a stacked congressional hearing, had promised in the run-up to the January 6 attack on the Capitol to object to the electoral votes of so-called “contested states” (including Wisconsin). However, Johnson backed off after Trump supporters rioted. Nonetheless, Johnson is opposed to holding Trump accountable for what happened.
“I don’t even think we should be having a trial,” Johnson told CNN.
McConnell, on the other hand, has said that he is “open” to voting to convict the former president and in a Senate floor speech put the blame for the January 6 attack on Trump and those who supported his election claims.
“The mob was fed lies,” McConnell said on Tuesday. “They were provoked by the President and other powerful people. And they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government which they did not like. But we pressed on.”
This is not the first time Johnson has questioned the leadership of McConnell. In 2017, Johnson expressed his frustration with McConnell over reforming Obamacare, according to the Associated Press.
“Leadership makes all the difference in the world, doesn’t it?” Johnson told an audience in Madison, according to the AP. “I recognize we’ve got a real problem with leadership.”
The division over a possible conviction of Trump in the Senate after his second impeachment in the House of Representatives reflects a growing division within the Republican Party.
According to a poll by Axios-Ipsos taken Jan. 11-13, 24% of “traditional GOP voters” supported the immediate removal of the president for inciting the riot. Only 1% of self-defined “Trump Republicans” supported the removal of the president. Only 46% of “traditional GOP voters” supported Trump’s challenge of the election results while 91% of Trump supported the election challenges.
Overall, within the Republican Party 56% considering themselves “traditional” Republicans while 36% call themselves Trump Republicans, according to the poll.
The division over impeachment has spilled over into a possible leadership battle in the House of Representatives, too. Rep. Liz Cheney (R-WY) is facing possible removal as House GOP Conference Chairman, the number 3 leadership position among House Republicans, due to her vote for impeachment.
Of the Wisconsin members of the House, only Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI8) has declared his support for Cheney in a Twitter post last week. Gallagher repeated his support for Cheney last night in an emailed statement to RightWisconsin.
“Liz is a principled conservative and our most passionate advocate for American primacy,” Gallagher said. “She is also unafraid to clearly state and defend her views even if they are unpopular. As we figure out where Republicans go from here, we need Liz’s leadership. We must be a big tent party or else condemn ourselves to irrelevance.”