Senate Democratic Whip Dick Durbin will not formally push his caucus to vote in favor of convicting President Trump in his second impeachment trial, describing it as a personal decision for lawmakers.
Speaking to CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday morning, Durbin (D-Ill.) made the remarks after being asked if he believed every Democrat would vote in favor of impeaching the outgoing president, to which he responded that he did not know the answer.
Durbin, who is set to become the No. 2 Senate Democrat when the party takes control on Wednesday, explained that he agreed with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) in his assertion that “it is an issue of conscience.”
“We will, of course, try to find out how members feel,” the Illinois senator argued, “But in terms of arm-twisting, when it comes to impeachment, you just don’t do that.”
“When it comes to an issue of this gravity and constitutional importance, members really have to follow their own conscience. It isn’t a matter of saying, ‘well, the team has to all vote together.’ It just doesn’t happen,” Durbin continued.
“This is the third time I will have sat through an impeachment trial. [Whipping] has not happened in the previous two times and I don’t expect it this time,” he added.
The House voted 232 to 197 to impeach the commander-in-chief last Wednesday. Democrats filed a single article of impeachment, charging the president with “incitement of an insurrection” after Trump supporters stormed the Capitol the week before.
McConnell, who will become minority leader after Inauguration Day, has said that any trial against Trump would not begin until at least after President-elect Joe Biden’s Wednesday swearing in.
His reason: the chamber will be in recess until Tuesday, the day before Trump will leave office.
In a separate interview on the same CNN program, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-Md.), a House impeachment manager, declined to say when the House would transfer the article to the Senate, only offering that it “should be coming up soon” when pressed on the matter.