Trump seeking challenger to McConnell as Senate GOP leader: report
Former President Trump is vetting possible candidates to remove Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) from his leadership position, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Sources familiar with the situation told the Journal that Trump has been speaking with senators and allies to gauge if there is any interest in deposing McConnell, though lawmakers and aides told the publication there has so far been little enthusiasm for the prospect.
Despite being one of Trump’s most powerful allies in the federal government when he was in office, a rift quickly formed between McConnell and the former president after he left office.
Though he did not vote to convict Trump during his second impeachment trial, McConnell said back in February that he believed Trump was “morally responsible” for provoking the deadly Jan. 6 attack on the Capitol.
“There’s no question, none, that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of the day. No question about it. The people that stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president,” said McConnell.
In an interview just a few months after he left office, Trump called for new leadership to replace McConnell.
“I think we’re going to do very well. We need good leadership. Mitch McConnell has not done a great job. I think they should change Mitch McConnell,” Trump said in a Fox News interview in April.
In August, Trump blasted McConnell as being “overrated” for his support of the bipartisan infrastructure bill.
“Nobody will ever understand why Mitch McConnell allowed this non-infrastructure bill to be passed. He has given up all of his leverage for the big whopper of a bill that will follow,” Trump said in a statement at the time. “I have quietly said for years that Mitch McConnell is the most overrated man in politics — now I don’t have to be quiet anymore.”
Despite Trump’s attacks on McConnell, support among the GOP for the Kentucky senator has remained steadfast, threatening to split Republicans as Trump seeks to consolidate his control of the party and punish those who publicly criticized him for his role in the Jan. 6 attack.
Speaking to the Journal, Sen. John Kennedy (R-La.) one of Trump’s allies in the Senate, expressed doubt the former president would be able to oust McConnell.
“I just don’t realistically see that happening,” said Kennedy.
The Hill has reached out to McConnell’s office for comment.