Donald Trump hasn’t exactly been secretive about his negative feelings for Mitch McConnell.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” he said less than a month after leaving office. “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.”
According to a report from the Wall Street Journal, Trump is actively working behind the scenes to oust McConnell as the Republican leader in the Senate.
“Mr. Trump has spoken recently with senators and allies about trying to depose Mr. McConnell and whether any Republicans are interested in mounting a challenge, according to people familiar with the conversations,” the report reads. “There is little appetite among Senate Republicans for such a plan, lawmakers and aides said, but the discussions risk driving a wedge deeper between the most influential figure in the Republican Party and its highest-ranking member in elected office.”
Trump had previously refused to discuss whether he was recruiting potential challengers to McConnell in a recent interview but made it very clear how he felt about him.
“They ought to [remove him],” Trump said. “I think he’s very bad for the Republican Party.”
While I support Trump’s efforts to support Republican challengers running against Republicans who sided with Democrats in the absurd Trump impeachment trial earlier this year, now is not the time to be targeting McConnell. With control of the Senate in reach because of Biden’s poor approval ratings, this is not the time for a high-profile battle over leadership in the party. While I haven’t always agreed with McConnell, he’s been a very effective leader for the Republican Party—standing up to Democrats, even in the toughest of situations. Remember Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination last year? McConnell made that happen. He also is the reason that Merrick Garland isn’t sitting on the Supreme Court today, as well as the reason Trump got to put an historic number of judges on the bench during his term. McConnell hasn’t exactly gone soft since Trump left office, either. Earlier this year, he said that if he becomes majority leader again in 2022, he will block Joe Biden from filling a Supreme Court vacancy if one occurs in 2024. I believe him because he’s given us every reason to believe him. Would anyone else be so bold and stick to it? Maybe, but who can say for sure?
It seems that the Republican caucus agrees. Even Senator Tommy Tuberville (R-Ala.), whom Trump enthusiastically endorsed over his own former attorney general Jeff Sessions, isn’t with Trump on this. “Naw, I’m not going to get in that fight,” he said, before adding that McConnell “is doing a good job.”
“I just don’t realistically see that happening,” Senator John Kennedy (R-LA) said of Trump’s odds of ousting McConnell. And he’s right. Trump should acknowledge that this is a battle he won’t win and move on.
Trump needs to pick his battles, and this is not a battle he should be pursuing right now–or at all. We have a chance to win back Congress and put the brakes on Biden’s legislative agenda and any hope he might have of confirming a radical leftist to the Supreme Court if a vacancy opens up in 2023. Trying to cause a fight over leadership makes no sense at this point.