Trump lashes out at McConnell as Republican rift deepens

In the latest example of a growing rift in the United States Republican Party following the impeachment of Donald Trump, the former US president on Tuesday lashed out at Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell.

“Mitch is a dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack, and if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again,” Trump said in a statement.

McConnell on February 13 voted to acquit the former president in a US Senate impeachment trial in which Trump was accused of inciting a mob of his supporters that stormed the US Capitol on January 6.

The Senate ultimately did not have enough votes to convict Trump of “incitement of insurrection”.

But in a speech after the vote, McConnell, once a solid backer of the former president, made an unequivocal rebuke of Trump, blaming him for the insurrection that left five dead.
“There is no question that President Trump is practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day,” McConnell said from the Senate floor.

“The people who stormed this building believed they were acting on the wishes and instructions of their president.”

McConnell’s speech, along with the fact that seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump, has highlighted that some Republican legislators want the party to begin distancing itself from Trump.

But the former Republican president still maintains a hold on the party and his supporters – including several Republican legislators in Congress – remain firmly behind him.

“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Trump said in his statement on Tuesday.

He also said he would back Republican “primary rivals who espouse Making America Great Again and our policy of America First”.