McConnell says Trump impeachment trial 'would not lead to a removal' if held today

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threw cold water on the impeachment process Tuesday, telling reporters that if a hypothetical Senate trial were held today, the upper chamber would not vote to convict President Donald Trump.

"I will say, I'm pretty sure how it's likely to end: If it were today I don't think there's any question it would not lead to a removal," the Kentucky Republican said. "So the question is how long does the Senate want to take? How long do the presidential candidates want to be here on the floor of the Senate instead of in Iowa and New Hampshire?" (Six senators, who would serve as jurors, are running in the Democratic presidential primary.)

"And all of these other related issues that may be going on at the same time, it's very difficult to ascertain how long this takes," McConnell added. "I'd be surprised if it didn't end the way the two previous ones did with the president not being removed from office."

A national NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll released this week found that a near-majority of Americans support Trump's impeachment and removal from office while 46 percent said they do not. But nine in 10 Republicans oppose the president's removal from office, which might help him in the GOP-controlled Senate.

Related: Mitch McConnell through the years

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Mitch McConnell through the years
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Mitch McConnell through the years

U.S. Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), left, talked with United States Enrichment Corp. General Manager Howard Pulley during a media tour of the uranium-enrichment Paducah Gaseous Diffusion Plant in the plant's Central Control Facility (C-300) on Thursday, Aug. 12, 1999 near Paducah, Ky. A sealed federal lawsuit filed in June by the Natural Resources Defense Council and three plant employees alleges that thousands of unsuspecting workers were exposed to dust containing plutonium and other radioactive metals.

(Photo by Billy Suratt)

Senator Mitch McConnell (L) discusses Republican tax cuts as Sen. Patrick Moynihan looks on during NBC's ''Meet the Press'' August 1, 1999 in Washington, DC.

(photo by Richard Ellis)

Senator Christopher Dodd, left, and Senator Mitch McConnell punch the 'first nails' into a piece of wood during a nail-driving ceremony December 6, 2000 on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. Both senators participated in the ceremony to signify the beginning of construction of the 2001 Inaugural platform on the West Front Terrace of the U.S. Capitol.

(Photo by Alex Wong/Newsmakers)

Mitch McConnell R-Ky. holds a press conference on campaign finance reform.

(Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

United States President George W. Bush signs nominations for 13 cabinet members in a ceremony in the President's Room in the Capitol Building, in Washington January 20, 2001. From left to right are Senator Mitch McConnell (R-Ky), Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, (R-Ms), Vice-President Richard Cheney, Senator Strom Thurmond, (R-SC) and Speaker of the House Dennis Hastert (R-Il).

(STR New / Reuters)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., talks to reporters after a news conference on his campaign finance bill.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduces his wife Labor Secretary Elaine Chao on the third day of the Republican National Convention in New York, September 1, 2004.

(Photo by Chris Kleponis/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Sens. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, left, speaks with Sen. Bill Frist, R-Tenn., after the Senate Luncheons.

(Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (R-TN) (C) and Senators Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (L) and Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-TX) smile at a joint news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington July 28, 2005.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas YG/TZ)

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C), flanked by Senator Jon Kyl (R-AZ) (L-R), Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Senator John Barrasso (R-WY), Senator John Cornyn (R-TX) and Senator John Thune (R-SD), talks to reporters about the senate's passage of debt ceiling legislation at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, August 2, 2011. Congress buried the specter of a debt default by finally passing a deficit-cutting package on Tuesday, but the shadow lingered of a possible painful downgrade of the top-notch American credit rating.

(REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) walks to his office at the Capitol in Washington December 17, 2011. The U.S. Senate on Saturday passed a $915 billion bill to fund most federal agency activities through next September and avert a government shutdown.

(REUTERS/Benjamin Myers)

Incoming U.S. Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist (C) (R-TN) attends a meeting with Republican leadership, Senate Majority Whip Mitch McConnell (L) (R-KY) and GOP conference chairman, Senator Rick Santorum (R-PA) on Capitol Hill January 6, 2003 in Washington, DC. Frist was voted in as majority leader by his colleagues when former majority leader, Trent Lott, stepped down last month.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., speaking, Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, and Sen. Norm Coleman, R-Minn., during a news conference on Miguel A. Estrada's withdrawal of his nomination to be a judge on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the D.C. Circuit. From CQToday: In numerous news conferences and floor speeches throughout the day, Republicans castigated Democrats for 'obstructing' the nominations of Estrada and other judicial candidates; most Democrats said they were blocking an up-or-down vote on the nomination as part of their bid for memos and other work papers from Estrada's time in the Clinton administration's Office of the Solicitor General.

(Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about the stimulus package on February 2, 2009 in Washington, DC. Republicans are criticizing the Democrat's near trillion dollar stimulus package and are asking for revisions before the Senate votes later in the week.

(Photo by Mark Wilson/Getty Images)

US Senator Mitch McConnell, R-KY, is sworn in by Vice President Dick Cheney (R) as his wife Labor Secretary Elaine Chao holds the Bible during a swearing in reenactment ceremony at the US Capitol on January 6, 2009 in Washington, DC.

(KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images)

U.S. Vice President-elect Mike Pence (R) and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wave as they walk before their meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 30, 2016.

(REUTERS/Yuri Gripas)

US House Minority Leader John Boehner (L)R-OH and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) make remarks to the press outside the West Wing after their meeting with President Barack Obama on January 23, 2009 at the White House in Washington, DC.

(TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) (C) waves goodbye to reporters after a news conference with (L-R) Sen. John Thune (R-SD), Sen. John Barrasso (R0WY) and Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX) after the weekly Senate Republican Caucus policy luncheon at the U.S. Capitol May 8, 2012 in Washington, DC. Despite the Senate voting against opening debate on a bill to keep interest rates on federal Stafford loans from doubling from 3.4 percent to 6.8 percent on July 1, 2012, McConnell said that both the GOP and Democrats agree on keeping rates down but need to find a way to pay for it.

(Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., makes his way to the senate luncheons in the Capitol.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

From left, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., and Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, attend a Congressional Gold Medal ceremony to mark the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, in the Capitol's rotunda, June 24, 2014.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell testifies along with Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (not pictured) during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on 'Examining a Constitutional Amendment to Restore Democracy to the American People,' focusing on campaign finance on Tuesday, June 3, 2014.

(Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks about the election of Donald Trump in the U.S. presidential election in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2016.

(REUTERS/Joshua Roberts)

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Last week, the House adopted a resolution in a 232-196 largely party-line vote, formalizing the rules and procedure for the impeachment inquiry, which ushered in the public phase of the probe. No president has ever been removed from the White House through impeachment, but President Richard Nixon resigned rather face the likelihood of his removal in the Senate.

McConnell, who previously said he did not want to prejudge the process, also told reporters Tuesday that discussions on formalizing the process with Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., have not begun, but noted that “if the House acts, I think the place to start would take a look at what the agreement was 20 years ago [in the Clinton impeachment trial] as a starting place and discuss how we may be able to agree to handle the process.”

The Constitution requires that the chief justice of the Supreme Court presides over the trial.

"How long it goes on really depends on how long the Senate wants to spend on it," McConnell said.

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