President Donald Trump denounced Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell Tuesday as an ‘unsmiling political hack’ – days after the Republican party’s most senior elected official voted to acquit Trump of inciting the Capitol riot but then blasted his conduct in an excoriating speech.
He called the Republicans’ most senior elected figure ‘dour, sullen’ and urged the party’s senators to end his leadership in a lengthy, racially-loaded and vitriolic statement issued from Mar-a-Lago.
The bitter assault was toned down:
Trump blamed McConnell, whose office sits steps from where a large group of rioters were arrested on January 6, for causing the loss of two GOP Senate seats. Many GOP consultants and some elected officials have blamed Trump’s own election overturn effort for costing the party control of the Senate.
‘The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,’ Trump began in a letter with his new stationary as the ’45th President of the United States.
‘McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse,’ he wrote.
‘The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle—they’ve never had it so good—and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.’
Blistering: How Trump released the extraordinary personal statement through his political action committee, which has received tens of millions of dollars since the election
End of any relationship: Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump were never personally close – but now the former president has launched a vendetta which threatens to tear apart their party
Statement from Florida: Donald Trump – last seen Monday saluting supporters near Mar-a-Lago sent the 622-word denunciation of the top-ranked Republican from his new home. Mitch McConnell voted to acquit Trump on Saturday, then savaged him on the Senate floor – setting off a cycle of vengeance and an open Republican civil war
Trump, who campaigned on China ‘ripping off’ the U.S., said McConnell had ‘no credibility’ on the issue – and even brought up a racially-loaded attack on his ‘family’s business substantial business holdings.’
McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, served as Trump’s Transportation secretary but resigned days after the Capitol riot. Her father James Si-Cheng Chao founded the family-held Foremost Group, which is involved in shipping and international trade, after leaving Taiwan in 1958.
‘Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings,’ wrote Trump. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.’ Trump’s daughter, Ivanka has her own business relationships in China, and received government approval for patents while her father was in office.
Trump leveled personal attacks at McConnell amid a brewing civil war within the party – and threatened to support primary challenges to those he considers counter to the MAGA movement. Seven Republicans broke with Trump to join Democrats on impeachment.
Of those who did, several including Richard Burr of North Carolina and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania faced immediate blowback from their state parties at home.
McConnell, 78, was just re-elected. Despite his own vote to acquit, he pointedly sided with House GOP Conference Chair Liz Cheney, who face an effort to strip away her leadership position after she voted to impeach Trump in the House.
‘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 predicted.
‘He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.’
That was a two-edged threat, not directly to McConnell, who will not face a primary contest until 2026, but to any Senate Republicans who get out of line and also a threat to campaign in public for his chosen candidates in open seats.
The most high-profile of those is a touted run by Lara Trump, his daughter-in-law, for the North Carolina seat held by Richard Burr, who is not seeking re-election in 2022 and where a purple state narrowly won by Trump in 2020 will now be a primary battleground between the former president’s family and the Republican establishment.
The statement was filled with personal invective – but while in office, Trump was considerably more laudatory as the procedural tactician helped push through tax cuts and a long line of Trump judicial nominations.
McConnell was infuriated by the Capitol riot and blasted Trump both before and after his impeachment. But his actions beyond simply his impeachment vote worked to insulate the president.
After House Democrats voted to impeach Trump in the riot’s aftermath, McConnell did not join with Sen. Charles Schumer to bring the Senate back from recess. His staff said in a statement this weekend that his reasoning was that there would not have been time to complete an impeachment.
Regardless, it set the table for Trump’s lawyers to argue on process grounds that the effort was unconstitutional – with McConnell and several colleagues saying they would not convict a president who was now out of office.
As angry as it was, an earlier draft was even more harsh,
‘There was also a lot of repetitive stuff and definitely something about him having too many chins but not enough smarts,’ one personal familiar with the drafting process told Politico.
The written broadside came in lieu of the idea of a press conference at Mar-a-Lago. Such an event also might have subjected Trump to questions from the press, which he has not done since leaving office.
In his statement, Trump again pointed to his winning ‘the most votes of any sitting President in history, almost 75,000,000,’ rounding up from 74 million votes that he got.
He did not repeat his previous baseless claims that he won the election, nor did he mention that he trailed Joe Biden’s 81 million votes.
It’s personal: Trump’s attack on McConnell included a racially-loaded claim that McConnell was compromised by ‘his family’s Chinese business holdings’ – a reference to Elaine Chao, who as well as being the daughter of a Chinese-American businessman whose shipping company has made his family right, was Trump’s transportation secretary until she quit in disgust after the MAGA riot
He took credit for the GOP’s better-than-expected showing in November, where even some top Democratic prospects in North Carolina and other states failed to pan out. ‘I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats,’ Trump wrote.
He blasted McConnell for failing to go along with an idea both Trump and Democrats backed for $2,000 checks in the final relief package. McConnell’s caucus was resistant to that amount, finally coalescing around $600 checks.
After the assault, in a sign of how it was closely coordinated withing Trump’s remaining orbit, Rudy Giuliani made an appearance on Steve Bannon’s War Room show Tuesday night, to echo the insults.
It was only hours after Trump’s own spokesman Jason Miller revealed that Giuliani had been dumped as his personal attorney, but the one-time New York mayor kept up the barrage of invective against the Republican minority leader.
‘The man was treacherous, not only his vote but that whole unnecessary statement, which he knows is not true,’ Giuliani said of the top Senate Republican. ‘He knows that Donald Trump didn’t organize that thing at Congress, come on, he organized it?’
Giuliani then ripped McConnell saying he was ‘never interested’ in the ‘evidence’ he collected that he claimed showed that the 2020 election was stolen from Trump due to widespread voter fraud. Dozens of courts rejected the claim and McConnell called the claims ‘lies.’
‘Mitch McConnell never asked to look at it, never cared,’ Giuliani said. ‘I can’t say he refused, he never asked. He never asked to see it. How can you say it’s all untrue when you haven’t looked at it?’
McConnell had been publicly allied with Trump until the week of the Georgia run-offs, which cost the Kentucky Republican the Senate majority, and the riot, which happened the next day – but he had never endorsed his claims of election fraud, and had very publicly broken with Trump on them when the electoral college certified Joe Biden’s victory.
‘Look, Mitch McConnell represents Mitch McConnell and Washington, D.C. I don’t even think he represents Kentucky. And he’s part of the establishment, he might as well be Nancy Pelosi,’ the former New York City mayor said.
‘And I don’t know what he’s calculating or why he thinks this will keep him in power, but for some reason, I think, getting the Washington Post and The New York Times to write nice things about him is important,’ Giuliani added.
McConnell is the most powerful member of the Senate, although his effort to navigate impeachment suggested he may have lacked the ability to cross the majority of his conference who were inclined to stick with Trump.
One fellow Republican, Sen. Ron Johnson, even denied this week that there was an armed insurrection in the Capitol.
McConnell, 78, wrote in the
McConnell spelled out his reasons for voting to acquit – arguing that he felt the Constitution did not allow for impeaching a president who has already left office.
But, in a careful threading of the needle, he insisted he respected those who voted differently to him.
‘I don’t begrudge my colleagues their own conclusions,’ he wrote. ‘I respect senators who reached the opposite answer.’ McConnell also reiterated his stinging criticism of Trump, who he is said to personally despise.
McConnell on Saturday, shortly after voting to acquit, accused Trump of ‘a disgraceful dereliction of duty’.
On Monday he wrote: ‘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.
‘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.’
McConnell on Monday wrote an op-ed insisting his vote did not vindicate Trump
Sean Hannity used his Fox News show on Monday night to attack the Senate Minority Leader. The themes were echoed in Trump’s statement Tuesday
Trump’s tirade carries echoes of the attack launched on McConnell on Monday night by Fox News’ Sean Hannity, one of the most passionate defenders of the former president. He accused McConnell of failing Trump when he was in office, and of failing to effectively attack Democrats for their own feisty rhetoric.
He also singled out John Thune, a Republican South Dakota senator, who like McConnell voted to acquit, then condemned Trump, saying: ‘What former president Trump did to undermine faith in our election system and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is inexcusable.’
In response Hannity said: ‘Where was John Thune and Mitch McConnell fighting against the biggest abuse of power corruption scandal in our history with Operation Crossfire Hurricane?
‘They were missing in action.
‘Where’s the sanctimonious Mitch McConnell, John Thune, demanding that Kamala Harris, Chuck Schumer, Nancy Pelosi, Maxine Waters – when is he going to give a speech on the Senate floor and hold those Democrats accountable for their incitement of insurrection and their insurrection-like language?
‘The time is now coming for new leadership in the U.S. Senate.’
Three of the seven senators who voted to impeach – Richard Burr of North Carolina, Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, and Pat Toomey of Pennsylvania – have all been formally censured by their state parties for their vote.
Three more – Susan Collins of Maine, Mitt Romney of Utah, and Ben Sasse of Nebraska – could also be censured although in Romney’s case the state party’s leadership issued a statement of support of him and Mike Lee, who voted to acquit.
Hannity said the senators’ guilty votes represent how ‘way out of touch’ they were with the Republican base, pointing to the immediate backlash in their home states.
‘THIRD RATE AND COMPROMISED’: READ TRUMP’S BITTER PERSONAL ATTACK ON MCCONNELL
The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm. McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse. The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle – they’ve never had it so good -and they want to keep it that way! We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.
In 2020, I received the most votes of any sitting President in history, almost 75,000,000. Every incumbent House Republican won for the first time in decades, and we flipped 15 seats, almost costing Nancy Pelosi her job. Republicans won majorities in at least 59 of the 98 partisan legislative chambers, and the Democrats failed to flip a single legislative chamber from red to blue. And in ‘Mitch’s Senate,’ over the last two election cycles, I single-handedly saved at least 12 Senate seats, more than eight in the 2020 cycle alone—and then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600. How does that work? It became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was. McConnell then put himself, one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, into the advertisements. Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race.
It was a complete election disaster in Georgia, and certain other swing states. McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will.
My only regret is that McConnell ‘begged’ for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him. He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets. Without my endorsement, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly. Now, his numbers are lower than ever before, he is destroying the Republican side of the Senate, and in so doing, seriously hurting our Country.
Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.
Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again. He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership.
Prior to the pandemic, we produced the greatest economy and jobs numbers in the history of our Country, and likewise, our economic recovery after Covid was the best in the world. We cut taxes and regulations, rebuilt our military, took care of our Vets, became energy independent, built the wall and stopped the massive inflow of illegals into our Country, and so much more. And now, illegals are pouring in, pipelines are being stopped, taxes will be going up, and we will no longer be energy independent.
This is a big moment for our country, and we cannot let it pass by using third rate ‘leaders’ to dictate our future!