WASHINGTON – Seeking to keep control of the Republican Party, Donald Trump on Tuesday attacked Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, the party’s highest-ranking elected official, after comments he made about the former president’s culpability for the Jan. 6 insurrection at the U.S. Capitol.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in a written statement put out by a political action committee called the “Save America PAC.”
Trump described McConnell as a “hack” who will not be able to lead the Republican Party back to victory (McConnell supporters have described Trump in similar terms).
The statement came three days after McConnell criticized Trump over the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, even as he voted to acquit the former president of impeachment charges stemming from the insurrection.
McConnell said he did so because he did not think it was constitutional to try a former president on impeachment. He did, however, hold Trump responsible for the attack, saying Trump’s false claims of fraud in his election loss to Joe Biden inspired extremist followers to violence.
“This was an intensifying crescendo of conspiracy theories, orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determine to either overturn the voters’ decisions or else torch our institutions on the way out,” McConnell said on Saturday.
More:Mitch McConnell votes to acquit but says Trump’s actions were a ‘disgraceful dereliction of duty’
More:Republican leader Mitch McConnell: Attack at the Capitol was ‘provoked by the president’
In his written statement on Tuesday, Trump did not mention McConnell’s impeachment comments. He instead accused McConnell of practicing “business as usual” politics, and failing to stand up to Chinese trade practices.
Trump also blamed McConnell for Republican loss of control of the Senate, something for which McConnell holds Trump responsible. The Senate Republican leader has suggested that the party needs to move past Trump as it tries to regain control of the House and Senate in 2022 elections.
Trump also plans to get involved in the congressional elections, and may seek to win the presidency again in 2024.
“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack,” Trump said, “and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”
Other Republicans said Trump is the reason for Republican reversals in last year’s elections.
“I love Trump warning about the demise of a party that just lost the House, Senate, and White House under him,” tweeted Brendan Buck, a former spokesman for GOP House speakers John Boehner and Paul Ryan.