Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Donald Trump did not part ways on good terms.
According to the upcoming book “Unchecked: The Untold Story Behind Congress’s Botched Impeachments of Donald Trump,” written by Rachael Bade and Karoun Demirjian and published by William Morrow, McConnell and his aides were walking through the Capitol some time after the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection when McConnell told his aides that he was done with Trump.
“We’ve all known that Trump is crazy,” McConnell reportedly said. “I’m done with him. I will never speak to him again.”
Trump was later impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives for “incitement of insurrection.” It was the second time Trump had been impeached by the House; he was acquitted both times by the Senate. Trump is the only president in U.S. history to have been impeached twice.
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Excerpts from the book published by the Washington Post indicate that in 2021, McConnell seriously considered voting to convict Trump for his role in the Capitol insurrection, but ultimately decided to vote to acquit — before excoriating the former president as “practically and morally responsible” for the attack. The account of McConnell’s remarks is based on interviews with people familiar with his thinking who were said to have spoken on the condition of anonymity for the book.
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On several occasions leading up to the vote, McConnell reportedly spoke with Rep. Liz Cheney of Wyoming about how to loosen Trump’s grip on their shared Republican Party in the aftermath of his 2020 election loss and subsequent impeachment. The book reports that Cheney implored McConnell to speak out forcefully against Trump and to vote to convict him in the Senate.
But McConnell had his own idea.
“We don’t disagree on the substance; we just disagree on the tactics,” McConnell told Cheney, according to the book. “Let’s just ignore him.”
McConnell’s office did not respond to MarketWatch’s request for comment.
In the 20 months since Trump left office, the former president has not been shy about attacking McConnell. Trump called McConnell a “broken down hack politician” in August, and in February had said that “if Republican Senators are going to stay with him, they will not win again.”
In April, McConnell said Trump “totally discredited himself” during the Jan. 6 attack, yet he indicated he would still support Trump if he was the Republican presidential nominee in 2024. “The nominee of the party? Absolutely!” McConnell said.