‘Unsmiling political hack’: Trump lashes McConnell, deepening GOP civil war

Washington: Former US President Donald Trump has lashed out at Mitch McConnell, the most senior Republican in the US Congress, in a scathing statement that will exacerbate the rapidly deepening divisions within the Republican Party.

In his most extensive public comments since leaving the White House, Trump described McConnell in a statement as a “dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack”.

Trump has indicated he will hit out at any Republicans who criticise him. Credit:AP

McConnell, the Republican Senate leader, voted to acquit Trump in his impeachment trial but lambasted the former president’s behaviour in the lead-up to the January 6 riot at the Capitol.

In a speech on the Senate floor that was widely interpreted as an attempt to drive Trump out of the party, McConnell said that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the Capitol attack.

Flagging his intention to retaliate against Republicans who speak out against him, Trump responded: “The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Senator Mitch McConnell at its helm.

“McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill and personality, has rapidly driven him from Majority Leader to Minority Leader, and it will only get worse.“

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell has sharply criticised Trump for provoking the January 6 attack on the Capitol. Credit:Bloomberg

Trump continued: “Mitch is a dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again … He doesn’t have what it takes, never did, and never will.”

Trump blamed McConnell for not passing US$2000 stimulus cheques and declining to back up his claims of widespread election fraud for the Republicans’ loss of two Senate seats in Georgia in January.

These defeats saw Democrats claim a majority in the Senate.

The Republican Party is riven with debate about whether trump should remain a central figure in the party or whether conservatives should cast him aside.

McConnell, former South Carolina governor Nikki Hayley and Liz Cheney, the third most senior Republican in the House of Representatives, want the party to move on from Trump and return to a more traditional form of conservatism that can appeal to college-educated and suburban voters.

But other Republicans want Trump to retain the party figurehead and to continue his populist style of politics.

Kevin McCarthy, the Republican House leader, recently travelled to Trump’s new home in Florida to urge him to remain engaged in the party ahead of the 2022 midterm elections.

Trump’s former chief-of-staff Mick Mulvaney told The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age that Trump remains a frontrunner for the Republican Party’s 2024 presidential nomination any bid would be weighed down by the “baggage” of the January 6 Capitol riot.

“I think there are a lot of folks who would be interested in finding somebody else to carry on the torch of Make America Great Again without some of the baggage that Donald Trump would bring,” Mulvaney said.

“Donald Trump would have a major challenge before him to convince people he would be electable in a general election.”

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