In an effort to deflate blame for the Republicans’ underwhelming midterm performance, Donald Trump has moved to declare open war on Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell and is now calling up his allies in the Senate to pressure them to boot the Kentucky Republican from his leadership post.
The former president, who is facing harsh criticism from inside his own party for dragging the party down in the midterms, has responded by trying to gin up opposition to McConnell ahead of leadership elections next week.
McConnell has already locked down enough support to win another two years as the Senate GOP leader, but he is facing dissension from the MAGA faction of Senate Republicans, who are grumbling internally about the timing of the leadership elections next week and are now calling for a delay, CNN reports.
As noted by the news network, “the internal back-biting has prompted a new round of fears: That Republicans will be at odds over their future and hurt their ability to unite ahead of the December 6 runoff for the US Senate seat in Georgia. Some of Trump’s allies fear that his obsession with the Kentucky Republican will only undercut their campaign in Georgia, with memories still raw for many in the party who blame the former President for costing them two seats and the Senate majority in last year’s runoff in the Peach State.”
Now, Trump is trying to turn GOP anger toward McConnell and is “willing to burn it all down” if he does not get his way, New York Times reporter Maggie Haberman tweeted on Friday.
“Trump has made clear he’s willing to burn it all down if he doesn’t get what he wants, which is maintaining his grip on the product line he’s been developing for six years: the Republican Party,” she said.
Trump has been extremely critical of McConnell’s decision to slash support for Arizona Senate hopeful Blake Masters over the summer, one aide noted. Masters currently trails incumbent Sen. Mark Kelly by more than 100,000 votes with 80% of votes counted, according to the latest election data.
In phone calls with GOP allies, Trump accused McConnell of spending recklessly in states where Republicans faced significant headwinds at the expense of candidates in more competitive contests, CNN reported. The former president and aides have specifically alluded to the Alaska Senate race, where the McConnell-aligned Senate Leadership Fund spent more than $5 million attacking a Trump-backed Republican challenger to incumbent Sen. Lisa Murkowski. That candidate, Kelly Tshibaka, appears poised to advance to a ranked-choice runoff against Murkowski on November 23.
Sources told CNN that “Trump has conveyed these frustrations to nearly everyone he has spoken to since Tuesday, hoping it will translate into an onslaught of public criticism of McConnell.”