February 16, 2021 at 10:59 pm #100001563zpodiumKeymaster
McConnell objected to the constitutionality of convicting a former president. But he also told his caucus that Trump could face criminal prosecution.
McConnell penned a Sunday op-ed in The Wall Street Journal defending his decision, which particularly angered Trump, according to a person familiar with the situation. Trump dictated the Tuesday statement himself, the person said, and the version that went out was toned down from the former president’s original comments. Another source familiar with the situation said Jason Miller, a top Trump adviser, took the lead in writing the final version of the statement.
A personal familiar with the crafting of the statement confirmed that it could have been far worse. An earlier draft mocked McConnell for having multiple chins, the person said. But Trump was convinced by advisers to take it out.
“There was also a lot of repetitive stuff and definitely something about him having too many chins but not enough smarts,” the person said.
A spokesperson for McConnell did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Trump’s statement. But in an interview with POLITICO on Saturday evening, the minority leader suggested he was not going to allow Trump to stand in the way of Republicans taking back the Senate majority in 2022. McConnell said that he would be willing to get involved in a GOP primary if the Trump-backed Senate candidate was less likely to win a general election.
“My goal is, in every way possible, to have nominees representing the Republican Party who can win in November,” he said. “Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be. The only thing I care about is electability.”
Trump’s statement will almost certainly aggravate the fight among Republicans over the party’s future after Trump’s presidency. While Trump allies like Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are making it clear they’re sticking with the former president, most Senate Republicans followed McConnell’s lead during the Senate impeachment trial. Even though only seven Republicans voted to convict, the vast majority did not defend Trump’s behavior and instead focused on the legal arguments against a Senate conviction.
Trump repeatedly attacked Republicans who refused to support his baseless claims of a stolen election. After Georgia’s Republican governor and secretary of state both rejected Trump’s efforts to delegitimize President Joe Biden’s win, Trump took to the rally stage to threaten primary challenges against both.
And when former Vice President Mike Pence refused to reject the election results when presiding over the joint session of Congress to certify the votes, Trump sent out a derisive tweet and Trump-supporting rioters chanted “Hang Mike Pence” as they breached the Capitol.
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