Donald Trump rips Mitch McConnell, promises MAGA primary challengers


Former President Donald Trump unloaded on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell on Tuesday, calling him a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack,” said Republicans cannot win with him at the party’s helm, and vowed to support candidates who will challenge GOP lawmakers in primaries.

The vicious attack came in a statement after Mr. McConnell penned an op-ed saying that while he voted to acquit Mr. Trump in the impeachment case for constitutional reasons, the former president still bears “moral responsibility” for the Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.

Mr. Trump, in his lengthy statement, didn’t address Mr. McConnell’s arguments about the mob, instead questioning the senator’s “substantial Chinese business holdings” and the loss of the Senate majority in two special elections in Georgia this year.

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Mr. Trump said. “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 statement is the longest from the former president since he left office, and is the latest salvo in a ferocious battle over the future of the GOP.

It also comes a little more than a week before the Conservative Political Action Conference, where the future of the conservative movement is going to be debated.

Even as some GOP leaders on Capitol Hill seek to move on from him, Mr. Trump and his backers believe he is the most relevant figure as the party takes stock of its future — and he said he’s ready to flex his power.

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

Josh Holmes, former chief of staff to Mr. McConnell, complained of the attention reporters were giving to statement, giving Mr. Trump space on the very social media platforms that have shut down his accounts.

“The most amusing part of this Trump letter is all the journos who told us Trump‘s words were dangerous and should be deplatformed are now wallpapering Twitter with them as soon as he attacks Republicans,” Mr. Holmes said.

Mr. Trump, who became the first president since George H.W. Bush to lose a re-election bid, suggested his political accomplishments were substantial nonetheless, pointing to gains in the House and state legislatures.

“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,” he said.

He also took a deep dive into the Georgia Senate races, both of which went to runoffs last month that the GOP incumbents lost.

Many analysts blamed Mr. Trump for undermining the GOP voter push by questioning the integrity of the voting system, but the former president blamed the rest of the political establishment.

He said Mr. McConnell’s refusal to embrace $2,000 stimulus checks was a political misstep, and said Republicans were disheartened not by his election complaints but by the refusal of others to fight with him.

“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,” the former president said.

Mr. Trump also said Mr. McConnell “begged” for his endorsement for the Kentucky Senate race last year.

“He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets,” the president said. “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.”

Mr. McConnell is the latest GOP congressional leader to run afoul of Mr. Trump, who has blasted former House Speaker Paul Ryan and No. 2 Senate Republican John Thune.

Mr. Trump was acquitted in last week’s Senate impeachment trial, although the vote to convict him was the most bipartisan of any impeachment in history.

Mr. McConnell, writing in the Wall Street Journal, said the president shouldn’t take that as an exoneration.

“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,” Mr. McConnell wrote. “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.”

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