House Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and Donald Trump have a long-standing mutual loathing, but that apparently won’t stop McConnell from bowing to Trump. The two men’s political teams have been in talks for McConnell’s endorsement, a reflection of just how desperate McConnell is to keep his weakening hold on his leadership position.
This is the same McConnell who blistered Trump in a floor speech after the Kentucky senator voted to acquit Trump in the impeachment proceedings after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. He accused Trump of “a disgraceful dereliction of duty” and said, “There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of [Jan. 6].” McConnell accurately said the crowd was worked up with “an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters' decision or else torch our institutions on the way out.”
The attack on the Capitol on Jan. 6, he said, “was a foreseeable consequence of the growing crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole which the defeated president kept shouting into the largest megaphone on planet Earth.”
So let’s just give him another shot at it, McConnell has apparently decided.
Sources involved in the negotiations give a weak explanation. “We’ve reached the part of the primary where the party is coming together,” one source told The Hill. “The absolute worst thing that can happen to this country is electing Joe Biden for four more years, and you can expect to coalesce around that point over the next nine months,” the source continued. So much for protecting our institutions from the guy who tried to “torch” them.
The likelier explanation is that McConnell’s grasp on his leadership position is weakening as the MAGA contingent in the Senate chips away at him. They have blocked his No. 1 priority—Ukraine funding—for months. They rebelled against him to kill the border deal that would have secured that funding.
Earlier this month, the Senate’s answer to the House Freedom Caucus held a press conference during which Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas was asked if he thought it was time for McConnell to step aside. “I think it is,” Cruz replied.
“Everyone here also supported to the leadership challenge to Mitch McConnell in November [2022,]” he continued. By “everyone,” he meant Sens. Rick Scott of Florida, Mike Lee of Utah, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, J.D. Vance of Ohio, Roger Marshall of Kansas, and Eric Schmitt of Missouri. “I think a Republican leader should actually lead this conference and should advance the priorities of Republicans,” Cruz continued.
Chances are pretty good that a Trump endorsement won’t be good enough to stop them. After all, House Speaker Mike Johnson has been in Trump’s pocket since he was elected to the position, and that hasn’t smoothed his way with the MAGA contingent of the GOP conference.
Trump is relishing the chance to humiliate his old foe McConnell, gloating, “I don’t know if he’s going to endorse me, I just heard he wants to endorse me. … Everybody’s getting in line, they’re all getting on board.”
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