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GOP Senate Leader Hedges on Expulsion for Stevens

Ted Stevens with Mitch McConnell (Joe Raedle/Getty Images)We’ve been wondering about Senator Ted Stevens' future on Capitol Hill now that he's both a convicted felon and apparently on his way to re-election.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell seemed to take a harsh stance on Stevens' political future. "I think he should resign immediately," McConnell told the Lexington Herald-Leader. "If he did not do that ... there is a 100 percent certainty that he would be expelled from the Senate.”

We flagged another one of McConnell’s comments on Stevens earlier today—and didn’t notice that McConnell had a bit of a hedge in it. "If he is re-elected and the felony charge stands through the appeals process,” McConnnell said, “there is zero chance that a senator with a felony conviction would not be expelled from the Senate."

That suggests that McConnell would only push for expulsion once Stevens’ appeals are over, a process that could take years.

We spoke with Don Stewart, McConnell’s communications director, to see if that’s what McConnell meant. Stewart reiterated McConnell’s position that Stevens should resign. But, he added, McConnell would wait to see if the corruption convictions (seven counts, remember) survive appeal before recommending the boot.

As we've noted before, a two-thirds vote is required by the Senate to expel one of their own. Despite yesterday's gains, the Democrats are still short of that. That means if Stevens is going to be expelled, at least some Republicans will have to support the move.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said earlier that Democrats would push to expel Stevens immediately if he's re-elected. We've called Reid’s office to get their opinion on McConnell’s stance but haven’t heard back yet.

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