Rift Between McConnell, Trump Widens With Blistering Statement From Former President

Feb 17, 2021

Former President Trump is calling on Republicans to replace Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. The statement is only the latest salvo in an unfolding battle over the future of the party.

President Donald Trump, left, shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., as he is brought on stage during a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky., Monday, Nov. 4, 2019.
Credit AP Photo/Susan Walsh

During his last appearance in Lexington at a rally in 2019, Trump urged the audience to re-elect McConnell to a seventh term.

"This state needs to defend its values and vote for rock-ribbed Kentucky conservative Mitch McConnell," the former president said, inviting the senator onstage.

Now, just days after McConnell delivered a sharp condemnation of Trump on the Senate floor following a vote not to convict him, Trump is firing back — labeling the Kentucky senator a "dour, sullen, unsmiling political hack" and promising to back a primary challenger.

The war of words could have deeper consequences down the road as the GOP wrestles with an ex-president who still commands a fervent base and a desire among establishment Republicans to return to business as usual.

The growing rift between Trump and his former political allies shows the future direction of the party is anything but settled.