Former President Trump criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) in a statement released on Tuesday, after McConnell labeled Trump “practically and morally responsible” for the January 6 riot at the Capitol.
While he voted to acquit Trump of the charge of “incitement of insurrection” during his impeachment trial, McConnell criticized the former president’s conduct leading up to the riots. A mob of Trump supporters breached the Capitol on January 6 after attending a speech by the former president, forcing lawmakers to evacuate the building and interrupting the certification of the Electoral College results.
Three days after McConnell’s statements, Trump responded by blasting the top Senate Republican.
Donald Trump just put out a very long statement through his "Save America PAC" attacking @LeaderMcConnell.
The lede: "The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political 'leaders' like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm." pic.twitter.com/NXIsHnJxzB
— Eli Yokley (@eyokley) February 16, 2021
“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.
The former president blamed the losses of Republican senators David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in Georgia on McConnell’s refusal to back $2,000 stimulus checks during coronavirus relief negotiations in December.
“Likewise, McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings,” Trump wrote in an apparent reference to the family of Elaine Chao, Trump’s former transportation secretary and McConnell’s wife. McConnell “does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.”
Additionally, while McConnell has indicated he will back primary candidates in the 2022 midterms based on “electability,” Trump threatened to “back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First.”
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said.
The statement is the latest round in an emerging contest for influence in the Republican Party following Trump’s defeat in the November elections. Looking to the 2022 midterms, Senator Lindsey Graham (R., S.C.), a staunch Trump ally, has indicated he would support the former president’s daughter-in-law Lara Trump if she decides to run for the Senate in North Carolina. Meanwhile, former South Carolina governor Nikki Haley has launched a PAC to support Republican candidates in the midterms, ahead of a potential run for the presidency in 2024.