IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Why Trump's latest anti-McConnell tantrum matters

There's a larger significance behind Trump's hysterical anti-McConnell tirade: He intends to replace McConnell as the Senate's Republican leader.


During his presidency, Donald Trump didn't exactly appreciate all of the things then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell did for him. Seven months into Trump's term, for example, the then-president started taking rhetorical shots at McConnell via Twitter, leading to an August phone call that "quickly devolved into a profane shouting match."

At the time, Trump demanded that the Senate GOP conference do more to protect him from the Russia scandal, and he blamed McConnell for not doing more.

After Trump's 2020 defeat, his contempt for the Kentucky senator reached new levels. McConnell had the audacity to accept the results of his own country's elections and criticize Trump for failing to do the same. In February, the former president responded by calling the GOP leader "a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack." In May, Trump added that McConnell is a "dumb son of a b----" and a "stone cold loser" as part of a lengthy harangue.

Over the course of 2021, the former president's occasional anti-McConnell harangues have continued, culminating in a doozy yesterday: Trump released a long, rambling written statement, which was even less coherent than his usual missives. The statement began:

"When the Broken Old Crow, Mitch McConnell, agreed to a two-month extension, he allowed the Democrats to get their act together and pass the $1.2 Trillion 'Non-Infrastructure' Green New Deal Bill, which is a disaster for America in that only 11% of the money will be spent on REAL Infrastructure, with most being spent on Green New Deal nonsense, with big tax increases...."

Trying to examine the statement on its merits is a fool's errand. Over the course of 400 words, the former president referred to McConnell as "the Broken Old Crow" three times, described him as "stupid," blamed him for the success of President Joe Biden's infrastructure package, suggested he should resign, and pleaded with Republicans to use debt ceiling threats as leverage to do ... something.

If the statement had arrived at McConnell's office in the form of a constituent letter, it's a safe bet some legislative assistant would've put it in a file labeled, "Crackpot Correspondence."

But as bizarre as Trump's latest harangue appeared, and as unusual as it is for a former president to lash out so wildly at his own party's most powerful official, there's a larger context to this that makes the statement notable.

First, Trump doesn't just intend to whine indefinitely about the Senate minority leader. In recent months, the former president has made calls directly to GOP senators, hoping to remove McConnell from his leadership position, and exploring possible successors who would be loyal to Trump.

In other words, statements like yesterday were a reminder of the former president's capacity for hysterical tirades, but it was also part of a larger campaign in which Trump intends to replace McConnell and help arrange for a new Senate Republican leader.

Second, reading Trump's statement, it was hard not to think about something McConnell said in February.

As regular readers may recall, it was on Feb. 13, in the immediate aftermath of the impeachment trial, when McConnell delivered memorable floor remarks, condemning Trump's "disgraceful dereliction of duty" on Jan. 6. The Senate minority leader added, "There is no question — none — that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day. No question about it."

In the same speech, McConnell called out Trump for his "crescendo of false statements, conspiracy theories, and reckless hyperbole ... orchestrated by an outgoing president who seemed determined to either overturn the voters' decision or else torch our institutions on the way out." The Kentucky senator went on to raise the prospect of Trump facing civil and/or criminal penalties for his obvious misconduct.

Two weeks later, McConnell appeared on Fox News and was asked whether he'd support Trump's 2024 candidacy, if the former president again ran as the Republican nominee.

"Absolutely," McConnell replied.

Maybe it's time to ask him again? Would McConnell welcome another four years of corrupt madness from a president who's desperate to derail the senator's career?