Senate would have 'no choice' but to hold impeachment trial: McConnell

FILE PHOTO: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) listens during a weekly Senate Luncheon press conference at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., September 24, 2019. REUTERS/Tom Brenner

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said on Monday he would have “no choice” but to hold a trial if the House of Representatives decides to impeach President Donald Trump.

The Democratic-led House initiated an impeachment inquiry against Trump, a Republican, on Tuesday after a whistleblower report raised concerns that he tried to leverage nearly $400 million in U.S. aid in exchange for a political favor from Ukraine’s leader.

“I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell told CNBC.

If the House approves bringing charges, known as “articles of impeachment,” against a president the process moves to the Senate which holds a trial to determine the president’s guilt.

“Under the Senate rules, we are required to take it up if the House does go down that path. “The Senate impeachment rules are very clear,” McConnell said in an interview.

According to a Republican Senate leadership aide, any senator could attempt to have the articles of impeachment dismissed in the early stages of the trial, which would trigger a vote with a majority of the Senate needing to vote in favor for it to succeed.

“How long you’re on it, is a whole different matter, but I would have no choice but to take it up,” McConnell said.

There has been speculation over whether McConnell, who has defended fellow Republican Trump, would try to find a way to avoid a Senate trial. The Senate leader controls what is to be debated on the Senate floor and sets the schedule for those debates.

Reporting by Richard Cowan and Doina Chiacu; Editing by Alistair Bell