Former President Donald Trump threatened an all-out civil war inside the Republican Party as he blamed Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell for election defeats and said he would back primary candidates to oust his allies.
“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 in a statement issued by his Save America PAC on Tuesday evening.
“He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First,” he added.
The full-frontal attack follows McConnell’s accusation that Trump was to blame for the violence that engulfed the United States Capitol last month.
“President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it,” McConnell said on Saturday despite voting against convicting the former president on an impeachment charge of incitement of insurrection.
Trump allies said McConnell had started a battle he could not win by blaming Trump for the Capitol violence.
“Mitch McConnell is not the leader of our party in any way, shape, or form,” said Trump donor Doug Deason. “I like him OK, but he’s not a leader around the country, and I don’t have to tell you what the approval rating of Congress is.”
His words were reflected in a Morning Consult poll published earlier in the day, which found that 59% of Republican voters wanted Trump to continue to play a prominent role in the party. That was an increase of 18 points since a poll taken in the aftermath of the Capitol riot. Some 54% said they would back him in a presidential primary if he decided to run in 2024.
Trump has cut a relaxed figure since leaving the White House. He mingled with diners at his Mar-a-Lago club after his acquittal over the weekend and spent Sunday evening at a $250-a-head Valentine’s Day dinner with his wife, Melania, and son Barron.
However, advisers have made clear he is biding his time before relaunching his political career and will show no mercy to Republicans who turned against him.
He took immediate aim at the man who was for his entire term a loyal lieutenant in the Senate.
“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,” Trump said.
Instead, he cited his vote haul in November — “the most votes of any sitting President in history” — and claimed responsibility for almost winning back the House before blaming McConnell for defeats in two Georgia races that cost the party the Senate.
“McConnell did nothing, and will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a fair and just electoral system into the future. He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will,” he said.
That analysis contradicts the views of many Republicans who have said that Trump’s false allegations of voter fraud deterred many supporters from turning out in the January runoff elections in Georgia.
-The Washington Examiner