MSNBC's Kasie Hunt spotted a handful of conviction-curious Republicans gathered around Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell's (R-KY) desk during a break.
The Capitol Hill reporter told "Morning Joe" that several GOP senators huddled with McConnell, who has told his caucus they may vote their conscience on impeachment, after House managers presented evidence against former president Donald Trump.
"What I noticed in this break is a cluster of senators around Mitch McConnell's desk," Hunt said. "He sits next to John Thune, around them were a collection of people, some of them we know are likely to convict -- Mitt Romney, Lisa Murkowski -- but there was a wider group. Bill Cassidy, who voted the trial was constitutional. Jerry Moran, the senator from Kansas who some sources suggest may be open to voting for conviction, though it is very circumspect at this point. Richard Burr came over to have a conversation."
"As this was unfolding, Sen. McConnell went over and had a conversation, both wearing masks, with Richard Shelby, who is now retiring, one of the last old bulls in the Senate," Hunt added, "and you could really see the physical divide between them and Lindsey Graham, Mike Lee. Josh Hawley sitting, again, up in the balcony watching instead of sitting at his desk on the floor. At one point, Graham, Lee, went and huddled with the defense attorney. This is the divide literally playing out on the floor of the Senate."
Hunt said the dynamic was fascinating to her, because it suggested there may be more votes to convict that had been previously known.
"We do not know how McConnell is going to vote," she said. "While I had previously had a sense that we would see these five Republicans vote to convict or there would be some sort of landslide, it would be 20-plus people, I think now it's possible we could see between nine and 12 vote to convict. It is clear there is some sort of conversation happening among this group, that is the reporting I'm going to be looking into today."
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