Former President Donald Trump issued a caustic and highly personal statement against Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, effectively declaring war on the Kentucky Republican for failing to back his attempts to undermine the 2020 election.
“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 in the statement released by his PAC.
McConnell publicly soured on the former president after the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol, breaking four years of support from the Senate leadership. Though he voted against convicting Trump at the Senate impeachment trial, he said from the Senate floor that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the insurrection, which left at least five people dead.
McConnell objected to the constitutionality of convicting a former president. But he also told his caucus that Trump could face criminal prosecution.
McConnell penned a Sunday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal defending his decision, which particularly angered Trump, according to a person familiar with the situation. Trump dictated the Tuesday statement himself, the person said, and the version that went out was toned down from the former president’s original comments. Another source familiar with the situation said Jason Miller, a top Trump adviser, took the lead in writing the final version of the statement.
A personal familiar with the crafting of the statement confirmed that it could have been far worse. An earlier draft mocked McConnell for having multiple chins, the person said. But Trump was convinced by advisers to take it out.
“There was also a lot of repetitive stuff and definitely something about him having too many chins but not enough smarts,” the person said.
A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s statement. But in an interview with POLITICO on Saturday evening, the minority leader suggested he was not going to allow Trump to stand in the way of Republicans taking back the Senate majority in 2022. McConnell said that he would be willing to get involved in a GOP primary if the Trump-backed Senate candidate was less likely to win a general election.
“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” he said. “Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”
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