Senate

McConnell asked if he has reaction to Trump’s attack on wife Elaine Chao: ‘No’

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Tuesday said he does not have a reaction to former President Trump’s statement over the weekend that labeled his wife, former Trump administration Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, “crazy.”

Asked in Kentucky if had any reaction to Trump’s statement, McConnell responded simply, “no.”

In a statement posted to Truth Social on Saturday, Trump criticized McConnell for a statement he made that week about the crop of GOP Senate hopefuls, before making a dig at Chao, McConnell’s wife of 29 years, calling her “crazy.”

“Why do Republicans Senators allow a broken down hack politician, Mitch McConnell, to openly disparage hard working Republican candidates for the United States Senate. This is such an affront to honor and to leadership,” Trump wrote. “He should spend more time (and money!) helping them get elected, and less time helping his crazy wife and family get rich on China!”

Chao served as Transportation secretary during the Trump administration for nearly four years, resigning one day after the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the Capitol. In a letter to Transportation Department staff, she called the riot “entirely avoidable” and said she was “deeply troubled” by the event.

Chao previously served eight years as Labor Department secretary under former President George W. Bush.

The mention of Chao’s family was likely a reference to the shipping company Foremost Group, which was founded by Chao’s father and is run by her sister. The American company does business in China and other countries.

The Department of Transportation inspector general previously discovered that Chao used department staff to assist the family business. The watchdog referred the facts to the Justice Department, which declined to investigate the then-secretary.

Trump’s statement bashing the couple came days after McConnell said the House had a better chance of flipping red than the Senate in the November midterm elections, citing “candidate quality” — a reference to Trump-backed candidates in Pennsylvania, Ohio, Arizona and Georgia who have lagged behind their Democratic opponents in recent polls.

“I think there’s probably a greater likelihood the House flips than the Senate. Senate races are just different — they’re statewide, candidate quality has a lot to do with the outcome,” McConnell told reporters in Kentucky when asked about his midterm expectations.

Trump’s attack on McConnell was the latest in the duo’s year-plus feud, which ramped up after the GOP leader slammed the then-president following the Jan. 6 riot. Since then, Trump has frequently criticized McConnell, calling him disloyal, an “Old Crow,” and earlier this month, taking a swipe at him after the Senate passed a sweeping climate, tax and health care bill.

But this weekend’s attack comes as Republicans are struggling in their fight to take control of the Senate come November. McConnell had earlier said this year’s midterm elections would be “very good” for Republicans, but he has since changed his tone, warning that the breakdown of the upper chamber following the races will be “extremely close.”

“Right now, we have a 50-50 Senate and a 50-50 country, but I think when all is said and done this fall, we’re likely to have an extremely close Senate, either our side up slightly or their side up slightly,” he said last week.

According to FiveThirtyEight, Democrats are favored to keep control of the Senate over Republicans, 64 percent to 36 percent.

—Updated at 4:42 p.m.

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