Former President Donald Trump’s Friday attack on Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, in which he accused the Kentucky Republican of having a “death wish” for supporting bipartisan funding legislation, reveals a widening gap between the former allies.
Trump had a friendly working relationship with McConnell during his presidency. The two worked together to pass legislation that included the 2017 tax cuts, with McConnell overwhelmingly supporting Trump’s handpicked justices. However, that relationship soured after Trump’s 2020 voter fraud claims, and their tensions represented a further divide in the GOP between “MAGA” Republicans and more traditional conservatives.
On Friday, Trump attacked McConnell for joining Democrats in supporting a funding bill to prevent a partial government shutdown. The bill also contained more than $12 billion to support Ukraine amid Russia’s invasion. Ultimately, it passed the Senate with bipartisan support and has been signed by President Joe Biden.
“Is McConnell passing all these trillions of dollars in Democrat-sponsored bills, without even the slightest negotiation, because he hates Donald J. Trump and knows I strongly oppose them, or is he doing it because he believes in the bogus and highly destructive Green New Deal, and is willing to take the country with it?” Trump asked on Truth Social, his own social media platform.
He continued, “In any case, either reason is unacceptable. He has a DEATH WISH. He must immediately seek help and advice from his beloved Chinese wife, Coco Chow!”
January 6 strains Trump-McConnell relations
The 2020 presidential election, which Trump claimed without evidence was stolen from him by widespread voter fraud, appeared to be a turning point in his relationship with McConnell.
As Trump allies pushed the voter fraud narrative, which has been widely dismissed as unsupported by credible evidence, McConnell acknowledged President Joe Biden’s victory after the Electoral College met to confirm his victory.
“Many of us expected the presidential election to have a different result, but our system of government has processes in place to determine who will be sworn in on January 20. The Electoral College has spoken,” McConnell said in a December 2020 speech. “So today I want to congratulate President-elect Joe Biden.”
Trump then responded in a tweet: “Mitch, 75,000,000 VOTES, a record for a sitting president (by far). Too soon to give up. The GOP must finally learn to fight back. People are angry!”
Tensions continued to grow after January 6, 2021, when a mob of Trump supporters rioted in the US Capitol building in a failed attempt to force Congress to block Biden’s Electoral College victory. McConnell ultimately voted to acquit Trump during his second impeachment trial, but still said he was “practically and morally responsible for bringing about the events of the day.”
Trump then responded with a lengthy statement attacking McConnell.
“Mitch is a dour, surly, serious political guy, and if the Republican senators are going to stick with him, they’re not going to win again. He’s never going to do what needs to be done or what’s right for our country. Where it’s necessary and appropriate “I will support major rivals who advocate Making America Great Again and our America First policy. We want bright, strong, thoughtful and compassionate leadership,” he said.
Trump and McConnell continue to trade barbs
Nearly two years later, Trump and McConnell continue to trade blows back and forth.
In March 2021, McConnell mocked Trump for taking credit for his 2020 re-election. McConnell, during a press conference, said, “Yeah, well, I also want to thank you for the 15-point margin I had in 2014.”
Last December, Trump accused McConnell of “bending over” to Democrats after he struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to end debate over raising the debt ceiling.
“He has all the cards to win, but not the ‘guts’ to play them. Instead, he gives away our country, just as he did the two Senate seats in Georgia and the Presidency itself. The Old Crow is a mess.” !” Trump said in a statement. Later that month, Trump described McConnell as “the best thing that ever happened” to Democrats.
In July, Trump criticized McConnell as a “caught disloyal” after the House select committee investigating the riots played clips of the senator working to clear Capitol Hill during the insurrection.
“Is this the same Mitch McConnell who was losing big in Kentucky and came to the White House to BEG ME for backing and help? Without me, he would have lost in a landslide. A sleazy disloyal!” Trump wrote in Truth Social.
Trump, McConnell Feud Shapes Midterms
Their feud has spilled over into some contests in this year’s midterm elections, with Trump and McConnell finding themselves endorsing opposing candidates in the Republican primary.
In the New Hampshire Senate race, Trump-backed candidate Don Bolduc defeated Chuck Morse, who received support from Republican leaders. The Senate leadership was aimed at boosting Morse, who was seen as a stronger candidate for the general election.
McConnell has reportedly called some Trump-endorsed candidates “fools,” and in August cast doubt on whether some of his endorsed candidates would prevail in key Senate races.
“It’s a 50-50 proposition,” McConnell was quoted as saying by Reuters at the Scott County Chamber of Commerce in his home state. “We have a 50-50 Senate right now. We have a 50-50 nation. And I think the outcome is likely to be very, very close either way.”
news week contacted the Trump and McConnell press offices for comment.