Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell listens to Donald Trump in 2017 (Chip Somodevilla/Getty)
UPDATE, MARCH 13:
Donald Trump has maintained his verbal assault on Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
Trump said in a statement on Monday night, “With leaders like Mitch McConnell, [Republicans] are helpless to fight. He didn’t fight for the Presidency, and he won’t fight for the [Supreme] Court.”
McConnell’s deputy in the Senate, Sen. John Thune, stepped up his cautious call on Trump to back down:
Hopefully there will be some sort of truce. It’s in everybody’s best interest — including the former President, if he wants to continue to stay viable politically — to help us win the majority in 2022. And that means working with Senate Republicans, and not against them.
Sen. Joni Ernst echoed, “We really need to come together, both Leader McConnell and President Trump. We just need to have good discourse within the Republican Party right now.”
Sen. Shelley Moore Capito admitted Trump’s insults are “not helpful” to the GOP but sought optimism: “This is how I look at it: They’re both big boys. They’re both aiming for the same ends, which is a good result in 2022. But they’ll be able to figure it out.”
UPDATE, APRIL 12:
Several Republican leaders express concern over Donald Trump’s insults, including of Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell, in a Saturday night speech at a Republican National Committee donor retreat.
Arkansas Gov. Asa Hutchinson told CNN on Sunday:
Anything that’s divisive is a concern and is not helpful for us fighting the battles in Washington and at the state level.
In some ways, it’s not a big deal, what he said, but, at the same time, whenever it draws attention, we don’t need that. We need unity….
Let’s get back to our principles. Let’s stop the personality divisions that we have.
He added on NBC, “I don’t think his most recent comments about Sen. McConnell were helpful if they were reported accurately.”
Rep. Liz Cheney, the third-ranking Republican in the House, said on CBS that Trump used “the same language that he knows provoked violence on January 6″, when the US Capitol was attacked after he urged followers to block the confirmation of President-elect Joe Biden.
Sen. John Thune, McConnell’s deputy in the Senate, tried to play down any damage:
Well, look, it’s just — like I said, I think a lot of that rhetoric is — you know, it’s part of the style and tone that comes with the former President, but I think he and Mitch McConnell have a common goal, and that is getting the majority back in 2022, and in the end hopefully that will be the thing that unites us.
ORIGINAL ENTRY, APRIL 11:
Donald Trump has renewed his war within the Republican Party, berating senior figures including Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
Railing to a Republican National Committee gathering at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida on Saturday, he blamed McConnell for allowing the Congressional certification of President Joe Biden’s victory.
“If that were [Senate Democratic leader Charles] Schumer instead of this dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it,” Trump said.
In an hour-long diatribe, he declared to the GOP donors that McConnell is “a stone cold loser”.
On January 6, as Congress convened for the certification, Trump whipped up his supporters with a speech outside the White House. He encouraged them to march on the Capitol to block the process, assailing Vice President Mike Pence for not intervening.
Several hundred Trump followers attacked the building within two hours of the speech, threatening legislators and Pence with execution. Five people, including a Capitol police officer, died.
Trump was impeached for inciting insurrection, but escaped conviction because McConnell led Republicans in preventing a 2/3rds majority in the Senate.
The Trump Threat
But Trump was infuriated that McConnell, just after the conviction vote, said supporters had been “provoked” because they were “fed lies” about a stolen election. The Senate leader also indicated that courts could pursue criminal cases against Trump.
Trump declared war in mid-February, “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm”, threatening to run his loyalists against Republican incumbents in Congressional primaries in 2022.
He reinforced the threat on Saturday, repeating the lie that he “won” last November’s Senate election for McConnell and attacking his wife Elaine Chao, Transportation Secretary in the Trump Administration.
“I hired his wife. Did he ever say thank you?” Trump said. He mocked Chao for resigning after the January 6 Capitol attack: “She suffered so greatly.”
Trump said nothing about issues or plans for a 2024 run for the Presidency. Instead, he continued his obsession with his defeat last November, repeating lies about the “bullshit” vote. At one point, he insisted on polling his audience about they believed he won.
Speaking about the Capitol Attack, he made up the claim, “Some people say it was over a million people” at his White House speech. He said he was “disappointed” in Vice President Pence.
Insulting Fauci and Immigrants
Trump’s invective covered a range of targets, including the US’s top Coronavirus expert Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Trump, who sidelined Fauci during the pandemic in favor of an unqualified neuroradiologist, bellowed, “Have you ever seen anybody that is so full of crap?”
Trump did not mention the 561,782 Americans who have died, instead praising himself over the pandemic. He said that “someone” had told him that the Coronavirus vaccine should be called the “Trumpcine”. And he praised his loyalists, like South Dakota Gov. Kristi L. Noem and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, who have resisted measures to contain the virus.
Immigrants were also derided: “They’re coming in from the Middle East. They’re not sending their best people. You have murderers, you have rapists, you have drug dealers.”
In the most ironic moment of the night, Trump complemented his insults of Republicans with the declaration that the party needed unity.
“We can’t have these guys that like publicity,” he said.