Trump Says GOP Won’t Win With McConnell, Plans to Back MAGA Primary Candidates

February 16, 2021 Updated: February 17, 2021

Former President Donald Trump, in a strongly-worded statement, criticized Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s (R-Ky.) leadership and said the Republican Party won’t be successful in the future with McConnell at the helm.

The former president’s statement, which was released through his Save America PAC on Feb. 15, blamed McConnell for the GOP’s 2020 loss of the Senate majority. He asserted that McConnell’s move not to support calls from Democrats and Trump for $2,000 stimulus payments was weaponized by Democrats, who promised the checks to voters if they won the Jan. 5 runoff elections in Georgia.

“He will never do what needs to be done, or what is right for our Country. Where necessary and appropriate, I will back primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First. We want brilliant, strong, thoughtful, and compassionate leadership,” Trump said.

“Then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600. How does that work?” the former president added. “It became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was.”

Trump added that the GOP under McConnell’s leadership “will never do what needs to be done in order to secure a free and fair electoral system in the future,” adding that the Republican from Kentucky “has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings.”

The former commander-in-chief was likely referring to McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao—who served in the Trump administration as secretary of transportation and resigned on Jan. 7. Chao reportedly has deep ties to China through her family’s shipping business, the Foremost Group.

The statement underscores a growing schism in the GOP between pro-Trump elected officials and the wing led by the likes of McConnell and House leadership member Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyo.), who voted to impeach Trump last month.

Several Republican senators who voted to convict Trump over the weekend were subsequently censured by their respective state GOP. Cheney, meanwhile, will face a Republican primary challenger for her seat in 2022.

While McConnell voted to acquit Trump, he claimed the former president was responsible for the Jan. 6 Capitol breach. The Republican leader also suggested that the former president could face civil or criminal charges, although he was acquitted in the Senate.

In an editorial for the Wall Street Journal, McConnell wrote that Trump’s “supporters stormed the Capitol because of the unhinged falsehoods he shouted into the world’s largest megaphone” and that his “behavior during and after the chaos was also unconscionable.”

Trump and his lawyers denied that he incited the violence on Jan. 6.

Arguing that he acquitted Trump to uphold the Constitution, the Senate Republican leader said the Constitution “presupposes that anyone convicted by the Senate must have an office from which to be removed,” adding: “This doesn’t mean leaving office provides immunity from accountability.”

Regarding future congressional races, McConnell told Politico that he won’t back candidates supported by Trump if he believes they lack credibility.

“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.

“I do think electability—not who supports who—is the critical point.”

McConnell’s office didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.