Watching Mitch McConnell

US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Reuters

The US House of Representatives voted on Wednesday to impeach President Trump a second time. The outcome was a bit different this time because 10 House Republicans (of 211 total) voted in favor.

But there's a far more consequential difference between this impeachment and the one early last year. This time, there's a genuine possibility that when the article is sent to the Senate, two thirds of senators will vote to convict Trump of high crimes and misdemeanors. That would be a first in American history.

The outcome hinges on one man: Republican Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.


McConnell leads the Republican Senate caucus. If he tells fellow Republicans that he intends to vote for conviction, many will probably join him. If he opposes conviction, Trump will be acquitted.

On Tuesday, multiple major media outlets — including Republican-friendly Fox News — dropped bombshell news that sources close to McConnell say he supports Trump's impeachment. It's not yet clear how he will vote, but these sources are highly unlikely to have spoken to the media without McConnell's blessing.

McConnell announced on Wednesday that he would not agree to call the Senate back into session until January 19, which means there will be no Senate verdict until Joe Biden has been inaugurated and Trump is out of office. But he also reportedly told GOP colleagues on Wednesday that he hasn't decided whether he will vote to convict.

Why would McConnell vote to convict Trump after his presidency is over? It's possible that a man who has devoted his working life to the Senate is so deeply offended by last week's violence and vandalism inside the halls of Congress that he will vote to remove Trump to send a message about the power and integrity of the legislative branch of the US government.

But there is also political calculus at work. There is now a battle underway for the future of the Republican Party. McConnell may not care very much that a majority of Americans back impeachment following last week's rioting in the Capitol, but he can also see a strong division of opinion among Republican voters over Trump's leadership.

According to data from the Wall Street Journal, 46.6 percent of GOP voters say they identify more as supporters of Trump than as Republicans. About 40 percent say the opposite.

Will continuing support for Donald Trump determine the future of the Republican Party? The same party that Senator McConnell has served for decades? The Senate could also vote to bar Trump from ever again running for federal office.

Last week's violence has given McConnell an opportunity to discredit Trump and try to pull the party away from him. Maybe McConnell fears that failure to convict would allow the threat Trump poses — to both the Republican Party and the continuation of democracy free of mob violence — to grow. Perhaps this is the GOP's last best chance to pass judgment on Donald Trump, even after he has left office.

We don't yet know how Senator McConnell will vote, but it's already clear that Mitch McConnell will soon have an historic decision to make.

That's Bank of America's new target in its Environmental Business Initiative in order to accelerate the transition to a low-carbon, sustainable economy.

Here's how it will drive innovation to address climate change.

On Tuesday, a major US intelligence report said the top threat to America right now is China. A day later, John Kerry, the Biden administration's "climate czar," got on a plane to... China.

Such is the drama of ties between the world's two largest economies these days.

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Should the Biden administration "reverse course on China" in the hope of establishing a friendlier relationship, as diplomat Kishore Mahbubani argues in a recent Financial Times op-ed? Ian Bremmer and Eurasia Group analyst Michael Hirson take out the Red Pen to explain why it's not that simple.

And today, we are talking about the United States and China. The relationship between the two most powerful nations in the world is the worst it's been since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. Pundits and policymakers alike all around the world are trying to figure out how Washington and Beijing can at least stop the bleeding because a reset is nowhere in the cards.

That's the topic of the op-ed that we are looking at today. It's from the Financial Times, written by Singaporean diplomat Kishore Mahbubani, and the title summarizes the key argument: "Biden should summon the courage to reverse course on China." Meaning, he should throw out the Trump era approach and open the door to more cooperation and kinder, gentler relations.

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More than a dozen COVID-19 vaccines have been fully approved or are currently in early use globally, and COVAX, the global initiative started last year by the World Health Organization and other partners, is pushing for equitable access to vaccines for all. But most of the half billion jabs given so far have gone to citizens of wealthy countries, with half going to the US and China alone. What's the problem with so-called vaccine nationalism? Ian Bremmer explains that besides the clear humanitarian concerns, the continued global spread of COVID increases the risk of new mutations and variants that can threaten the entire world, vaccinated or not.

Watch the episode: Vaccine nationalism could prolong the pandemic

Should wealthy individuals and nations shoulder more of the burden in addressing climate change? Pulitzer Prize-winning climate journalist Elizabeth Kolbert argues that Big Tech leaders like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk should shift more of their focus to fighting for our own planet's survival, instead of space exploration. "We're doing as much as we can to make life difficult on planet Earth for ourselves. But there's virtually nothing we could do to make it as difficult as life on Mars, where there's, among other things, no oxygen." Kolbert, the author of Under a White Sky, discusses why it's so crucial for a few rich countries to bear most of the climate burden, since they're also the biggest emitters. Her conversation with Ian Bremmer is featured in the upcoming episode of GZERO World, airing on US public television stations starting this Friday, April 16. Check local listings.

In recent days, Northern Ireland has seen some of its worst street violence in over a decade. The anger has subsided a bit this week, but post-Brexit fears leave many uncertain about their future in a deeply divided land with a long history of political violence between Irish republicans and UK unionists.

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Fighting climate change is about making the planet get less hot. The more quickly countries slow down their carbon emissions, the faster that'll happen. All the more important for the nations that pollute the most — but not all of them are on board. Although the majority, including China, are setting future targets to go Net Zero, India doesn't want to commit (yet) to when to stop burning fossil fuels to spur economic growth. We take a look at when the world's top polluting economies intend to go carbon-neutral, compared with their share of global emissions, of renewable energy as a source of electricity, and percentage of global coal consumption.

Peruvian runoff: Perú's presidential election is going to a runoff in June between two surprise and polarizing contenders, each of whom won less than 20 percent of votes in a highly fragmented first round. Pedro Castillo, a far-left union leader and teacher who benefited from a late surge in the polls, will battle rightwing populist Keiko Fujimori, daughter of the country's imprisoned former strongman. Castillo wants to rewrite the constitution to weaken the political influence of the country's business elite and maybe to allow the state to nationalize parts of the mining sector to pay for social programs for the poor. Fujimori wants to use mining revenues to create jobs by investing in infrastructure and healthcare. The runoff will probably be a national referendum on Fujimori, a divisive figure running for the top job for the third time. No Peruvian president has ever left office without facing corruption charges, but Fujimori already faces several — and she'll avoid jail time if she wins.

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