Former President Donald Trump released a scathing statement about Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, intensifying the ongoing rift within the GOP over the direction of the party and ensuring that Trump will remain active in politics even out of power.
In a lengthy statement sent through his political action committee Save America, Trump placed the blame on the Kentucky Republican for costing the party the Senate after twin losses in Georgia gave Democrats a narrow majority last month. Trump also vowed to support primary challengers running in the 2022 midterm elections “who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said. “He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our country.”
From the Senate floor on Saturday, McConnell said that Trump “is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day,” arguing that those who breached the Capitol “believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions” of him. McConnell said he voted for acquittal because of his belief that an impeachment trial of a former president is unconstitutional.
Since Trump lost the November election, his working relationship with McConnell started deteriorating, particularly after the GOP leader publicly acknowledged President Joe Biden’s victory in December.
In his statement, Trump praised House Republicans for winning more than a dozen seats in 2020 – though they still remain in the minority – while claiming sole responsibility for helping the party win a number of Senate seats in the past two election cycles. But during Trump’s time in office, Republicans lost the House in 2018 and the Senate and the presidency two years later.
Trump also took aim at McConnell over the GOP’s losses in Georgia when Democrats won both Senate seats in two runoff elections last month. The president, who pushed for $2,000 stimulus checks in the last round of coronavirus aid, blamed the defeats on Congress ultimately passing only $600 direct payments.
Other Republicans, however, have argued that Trump’s public criticism of GOP officials in Georgia and repeated claims about possible voter fraud in the runoffs cost them the two Senate elections and another two years in the majority.
The clash between Trump and McConnell magnifies the broader issues and debates roiling the party: the staying power of Trumpism and whether the wings of the party can co-exist under a “big tent.”
It also highlights the different leadership styles between McConnell and his counterpart in the House – Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, who remains in contact with Trump and recently visited the former president at his home in Florida to talk about his future role in the party and for the midterm elections.
With Democrats holding narrow majorities, Republicans are vying to take back both the…