Former President Donald Trump issued a blistering, wrathful, and highly personal attack on the Senate’s highest-ranking Republican, Mitch McConnell, on Tuesday. And while Trump repeated many of his favorite insults and debunked conspiracies, it also included five full-on deranged or abjectly false claims.
1. Slamming McConnell’s “lack of political insight, wisdom, and skill.” The now-Senate Minority Leader is recognized, even by his partisan opponents, as an intensely canny and strategic legislator with a decades-long reputation for pushing — and blocking — bills and nominations in the upper chamber to benefit his party’s agenda. To suggest the seven-term Senator is a bumbling, unsuccessful politician defies reality. And it also defies Trump himself, who has repeatedly praised him in the past, like in October 2018 when the then-president proclaimed “There’s nobody’s tougher, there’s nobody smarter” after the Senate confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh.
2. Blaming twin Georgia Senate runoff defeats on McConnell and state officials. In a desperate show of projection, Trump tried to blame the double whammy of GOP Senate incumbent losses in Georgia, which flipped the chamber to Democratic control, on both McConnell and the state’s GOP elected officials.
Then came the Georgia disaster, where we should have won both U.S. Senate seats, but McConnell matched the Democrat offer of $2,000 stimulus checks with $600. How does that work? It became the Democrats’ principal advertisement, and a big winner for them it was.McConnell then put himself, one of the most unpopular politicians in the United States, into the advertisements. Many Republicans in Georgia voted Democrat, or just didn’t vote, because of their anguish at their inept Governor, Brian Kemp, Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, and the Republican Party, for not doing its job on Election Integrity during the 2020 Presidential race.
This claim too doesn’t pass the smell test. Trump’s relentless pursuit of his own election fraud conspiracy and attack on the integrity of the Georgia result, which were confirmed via three recounts, is widely recognized by both Republican party officials and donors and an analysis by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as having depressed turnout among key GOP voters.
3. Claiming McConnell would’ve lost his own Senate race without Trump’s endorsement.
My only regret is that McConnell “begged” for my strong support and endorsement before the great people of Kentucky in the 2020 election, and I gave it to him. He went from one point down to 20 points up, and won. How quickly he forgets. Without my endorsement, McConnell would have lost, and lost badly.
Here, Trump cherry-picks a June 9th poll from RMG Research that showed challenger Amy McGrath with a statistically negligible one percentage-point lead over McConnell, 41% – 40%. One month later, Trump officially endorsed McConnell, who did indeed end up winning in November by 20 percentage points. But what Trump ignores are the two June 18th polls in between the nominal McGrath lead and his July endorsement that found McConnell beating her soundly, by 14 and 20 points, respectively. At no point during the 2020 campaign season, did Senate political oddsmakers ever consider McConnell’s seat as anything other than “likely or solid Republican.”
4. Insinuating that McConnell as well as the senator’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s Transportation Secretary, were politically compromised because of ties to China.
McConnell has no credibility on China because of his family’s substantial Chinese business holdings. He does nothing on this tremendous economic and military threat.
In a breathlessly bold claim, Trump is not only attacking McConnell as somehow beholden to China because of his Chinese-American wife’s numerous business ties to that country. Left out of that statement was the key context that Trump was de facto accusing his own former Transportation Secretary of being compromised by a foreign country as well.
5. Uh, “after Covid?!”
Prior to the pandemic, we produced the greatest economy and jobs numbers in the history of our Country, and likewise, our economic recovery after Covid was the best in the world.
In attempting to take credit for an economic recovery in the last half, Trump took not only bent but broke the truth. The vaunted economic recovery he touted was more like an anemic shuffle, as the economy grew just one percent in the last quarter of 2020, with the country primed for similar sluggish growth to start 2021. “Best in the world?” Nope, as CNBC notes, Europe, Japan, and other industrialized nations suffered far fewer job losses and have bounced back to similar or higher levels. But what’s truly outrageous is Trump’s trying to skip to the end of a pandemic that was very much at its deadly peak in terms of cases, hospitalizations, and deaths in the final few weeks of his presidency. In other words, anything but after Covid was over.
Trump’s full statement is included below.
Oh man, long Trump statement going after Mitch McConnell pic.twitter.com/houXKQzymT
— Lachlan Markay (@lachlan) February 16, 2021
Have a tip we should know? [email protected]