The former U.S. president suggests that the leader of the Republicans in the Senate should be removed. Mitch McConnell is being shown up by the Democrats.
If it were up to him, Mitch McConnell would have to go: Former U.S. President Donald Trump Photo: Evan Vucci/dpa
An open power struggle has broken out among US Republicans: Former President Donald Trump attacked his party’s powerful leader in the Senate, Mitch McConnell, with sharp words on Tuesday, suggesting his ouster. "The Republican Party can never be respected or strong again with political ‘leaders’ like Senator Mitch McConnell at its helm," Trump declared. "If Republican senators stand by him, they will never win again."
In a statement, Trump launched a series of personal attacks against the Senate Republican minority leader. McConnell was "one of the most unpopular politicians in the U.S.," a "gloomy, disgruntled" politician "who doesn’t smile." The 78-year-old lacks "political understanding, wisdom, talent and personality," the ex-president said.
The former Senate majority leader is also letting Democrats show him up and weakening Republicans: "He’s destroying the Republican side in the Senate and seriously damaging our country." Trump blamed McConnell for losing the Senate majority in the last election and expressed regret for voicing his political support for him in the run-up to the election. "Without my support, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly."
McConnell – Senate majority leader until January – has long been a key Trump ally in Congress. After the Capitol storming on the 6th. January, however, the powerful string-puller clearly distanced himself from Trump and held the then-president partly responsible for the violence.
"Practically and morally responsible"
In the impeachment trial against Trump in the Senate, McConnell did vote on Saturday with a majority of Republicans for an acquittal for the ex-president. Afterward, however, he said Trump was without a doubt "practically and morally responsible" for the Capitol storming. Trump’s conduct on Jan. 6, he said, was a "shameful dereliction of his duties." McConnell at the same time referred to the possibility of criminal and civil proceedings against Trump.
The power struggle between Trump and McConnell highlights the deep rift that runs through the Republican Party. Many politicians from the moderate camp want to break with the right-wing populist. But in large parts of the party and among the grassroots, the 74-year-old is still very popular. This has led to fierce conflicts between the moderate and right wings of the party.
In his statement on Tuesday, Trump threatened that, if necessary, he would support challengers to his internal party critics in Republican primaries. With this leverage, Trump is trying to maintain control of the party – and punish those politicians he accuses of lacking loyalty. In the impeachment process, only seven of the 50 Republican senators had voted against Trump.
Trump had clearly lost the Nov. 3 presidential election to Democrat Joe Biden. But he resisted his ouster for weeks with baseless allegations of fraud, plunging the country into a deep political crisis. His term ended Jan. 20, when Biden was sworn in.
In the meantime, Trump lives in his luxury Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach in the state of Florida. He has flirted in the past with running for president again in 2024.