McConnell silent in aftermath of Trump broadside as ex-president threatens to get involved in GOP primaries

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell was silent Tuesday night time into Wednesday morning after former President Donald Trump lit into him in a prolonged assertion calling on Republican senators to abandon McConnell and threatening main challenges to incumbents. 

“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 stated Tuesday. “Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”

Trump additionally attacked McConnell’s spouse, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s transportation secretary however resigned after the Jan. 6 riot on the Capitol. He stated, “McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings.”

And the previous president accused McConnell of being chargeable for the GOP Senate runoff losses in Georgia as a result of he wouldn’t help Trump’s ask for $2,000 stimulus checks. 

President Donald Trump walks on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020, after stepping off Marine One. Trump was coming back from Camp David. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)


This contradicts McConnell, who has made clear he blames Trump’s false claims that he received the presidential election and false accusations of widespread election fraud for miserable GOP voter turnout. 

“Georgia was a fiasco,” McConnell instructed the Wall Street Journal in a narrative that ran Tuesday. “We all know why that occurred.”

But McConnell has not stated something because the Tuesday afternoon assertion from Trump was launched. His workplace didn’t return a request for remark from Fox News on Tuesday. This follows what was a multiday media tour in which the minority chief was justifying Republicans’ votes to acquit Trump of the impeachment cost that he incited an rebellion on the Capitol whereas making clear his opinion that Trump bears elementary accountability for the assault.

“Jan. 6 was a shameful day. A mob bloodied law enforcement and besieged the first branch of government. American citizens tried to use terrorism to stop a democratic proceeding they disliked,” McConnell wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed on Monday. 

“There is no question former President Trump bears moral responsibility. His supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone,” he continued. “His behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable, from attacking Vice President Mike Pence during the riot to praising the criminals after it ended.”

A supply shut to the previous president instructed Fox News that the assertion from Trump was meant to be a direct response to the Monday op-ed from McConnell. That supply stated it is unclear if there are any upcoming rallies or occasions that Trump plans to take part in, however that Trump, as his assertion says, plans to hit the marketing campaign path in GOP primaries earlier than 2022. 

In this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks during a news conference with other Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool Photo via AP, File)

In this Tuesday, Dec. 15, 2020, file photograph, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky speaks throughout a information convention with different Senate Republicans on Capitol Hill in Washington. (Nicholas Kamm/Pool Photo by way of AP, File)

That promise from Trump that he’ll again main challenges to GOP incumbents who he sees as insufficiently loyal paired with the specific repudiation of McConnell as a “third rate” chief ratchets up the stress inside the GOP forward of 2022. 


McConnell instructed the Journal that it was potential Trump could possibly be “a constructive part of the process” in rebuilding a GOP Senate majority. It’s unclear if he nonetheless holds that view after Tuesday. 

Trump had already made clear he would go after the incumbent House Republicans like Reps. Liz Cheney, R-Wyo., and Adam Kinzinger, R-Ill., who voted to impeach him in the House. But they weren’t leaders of a whole chamber like McConnell, although Cheney is the third-ranking House Republican. 

Tuesday was additionally probably the most express indication to date that Trump would personally be involved in opposing GOP incumbent senators, with every seat which means considerably greater than in the House in the physique that is lower than 1 / 4 the scale. He’d beforehand stated “I hope to see” South Dakota Gov. Kristi Noem problem Sen. John Thune, R-S.D. But he’d not promised private involvement in the marketing campaign. Further, Noem declined to run. 

This may complicate issues for not solely particular person senators deciding whether or not they want to repudiate McConnell and pledge allegiance to Trump — or if they’ll stroll the fantastic line of supporting each the previous president and their Senate chief — but in addition for the GOP election equipment itself. 

Sen. Rick Scott, R-Fla., the brand new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee (NRSC), beforehand dismissed solutions that he would not absolutely help all incumbent GOP senators. 

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the East Room of the White House during an event about Trump's judicial appointments, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

President Donald Trump shakes arms with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., in the East Room of the White House throughout an occasion about Trump’s judicial appointments, Wednesday, Nov. 6, 2019, in Washington. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

“I’m clearly going to support our incumbents,” Scott told Fox News final month.

But if Trump is campaigning laborious in sure races towards senators who stand with the minority chief, it may pressure the assets of the NRSC earlier than the overall election and probably lead to some embarrassing losses if Trump’s fervent base carries his candidates to victory. 


Fox News has reached out to the NRSC to ask what its stance on primaries in which Trump has endorsed the non-incumbent will likely be. 

The feud between Trump and McConnell is worrying Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who’s broadly thought of an ally of each males. 

“I’m more worried about 2022 than I’ve ever been. I don’t want to eat our own,” Graham stated on Fox News Tuesday night time. He stated that McConnell ought to perceive that “Trump is the most consequential Republican in the party” and that “Mitch McConnell was indispensable to Donald Trump’s success.”

“We need to knock this off,” Graham stated. 

Fox News’ Mark Merideth, Paul Steinhauser and Angelica Stabile contributed to this report. 

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