WASHINGTON – In the most caustic sign yet of the GOP’s deepening divisions, former President Donald Trump blamed Mitch McConnell as a “political hack” on Tuesday, days after the top Republican in the Senate called him denounced as the instigator of the attack on the US Capitol.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Senator Mitch McConnell at its head,” Trump said in a statement released by his political action committee.
He went on to write, “Mitch is an austere, brooding, smileless political hack, and if Republican senators want to stick with him, they won’t win anymore.”
A McConnell spokesperson did not immediately return requests for comment.
The deeply personal attack follows McConnell’s speech over the weekend saying Trump was responsible for the deadly insurgency on Capitol Hill on January 6. But McConnell said it was only after joining other Republicans to vote against the former president’s conviction in a Senate impeachment trial accused Trump of inciting the crowd.
“There is no doubt, no, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of the day,” McConnell said on Saturday, after Trump, the only president to be impeached twice, was acquitted in a 57-43 vote. “The people who stormed this building believed they were acting according to the wishes and instructions of their president.”
McConnell said he voted to acquit Trump because the Senate had no jurisdiction over an ex-president – even though he rejected a Democrats’ request to start the trial while Trump was still in office. The House impeached Trump a week before he left.
McConnell had remained loyal to Trump for almost all of his four years in office, when the couple were the two most powerful members of the Republican Party. But, after Trump spent months baselessly claiming that voter fraud cost him the November election against Democrat Joe Biden, McConnell said canceling the vote due to the losing side’s objections would see democracy. American enter “a death spiral”.
Republican officials from battlefield states, including Georgia and Arizona, also said the election was fair. Trump’s electoral fraud charges have been dismissed by judges at all levels of the judiciary, including those appointed by Trump himself.
The former president’s statement promises to fuel further an intra-party struggle.
Some, like the seven Republican senators who voted to convict Trump in the second impeachment trial, have sought to alienate the party from the former president. But others have remained loyal in the hope that they will not alienate Trump supporters in the upcoming election.
In his statement, Trump criticized McConnell for failing to do more to support his unsubstantiated allegations of voter fraud. He also said McConnell “begged” for approval in the senator’s home state of Kentucky when he was re-elected last year – and suggested he would work to defeat McConnell and his Republican allies, claiming that he planned to “support the main rivals who espouse Making America Awesome.”
“This is a great moment for our country,” Trump wrote, “and we cannot let it go by using third-rate” leaders “to dictate our future.”
Copyright 2021 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
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