Trump led a ‘violent insurrection’ but I’ll still vote for him, says McConnell

Senate GOP leader said he’ll stick to pledge to endorse Trump even as former president faces 88 felony counts

John Bowden
Washington DC
Sunday 28 April 2024 15:58 BST
Bill Barr says Trump would 'threaten execution' when he was angry

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell will vote for the man he holds personally responsible for leading a “violent insurrection” at his workplace, the US Capitol, Congress’s senior Republican declared on Sunday.

It was an affirmation of both previous statements the senator has made as well as the modern state of the GOP: utterly loyal to the man who, three years ago, he and others were roundly denouncing after a violent assault on the seat of American democracy left dozens of cops wounded and several dead including members of law enforcement and rioters.

The statement was also a fitting end to the career of Mr McConnell, 82, who will be replaced as head of the Senate Republican caucus in the months ahead after he steps down in November. A persistent ideological check to the former president within the Republican Party, the Senate GOP leader has like his colleagues been forced to continue publicly supporting a candidate now facing 88 felony counts and set to be the first nominee of a major party to be under threat of prison time.

Mr McConnell explained his upcoming vote during an interview that aired Sunday on NBC’s Meet the Press.

“You have said that you endorse former president Trump. Are you gonna vote for him?” asked Kristen Welker.

“I said three years ago, shortly after the assault on the Capitol, that I would support the nominee of the party, whoever that was, and I do,” he replied.

The remark showed Mr McConnell’s unflinching loyalty to party over all, and is particularly revealing given that, as an oft-critic of the former president, Mr McConnell has not minced words or sought to rewrite history surrounding the January 6 attack, as some of his conservative colleagues have done to defend their top ally. In 2021, the GOP leader made clear what had transpired on Jan 6: “It was a violent insurrection for the purpose of trying to prevent the peaceful transfer of power after a legitimately certified election from one administration to the next.”

Now, Mr McConnell is confirming that he will vote for the man who sought to “prevent the peaceful transfer of power” and led a “violent insurrection” to do so, for one reason: he’s not a Democrat.

While he may show unwavering loyalty to the former president, it is far from reciprocated. Mr Trump is known to hold a grudge against Mr McConnell especially after the latter whipped votes against efforts to interfere in the certification of the 2020 election on January 6, and in 2022 the former president backed Florida Senator Rick Scott (a first-term senator) for Mr McConnell’s position over the incumbent GOP Senate leader.

His loyalists in the House of Representatives, meanwhile, have already ousted one GOP leader in the past year — and seem poised to try it again. Mike Johnson, the speaker of the House, may well end up relying on the support of Democrats to save himself from a rebellion led by Trump’s acolytes.

Mr McConnell’s latest interview comes after the Senate, with his support, finally sent a national security funding package to the president’s desk with funding for military assistance for Ukraine, Israel and Taiwan after months of delay. The Senate had come together in bipartisan fashion around the legislation, and Mr McConnell himself led the GOP pressure campaign against Mr Johnson in the House as his colleagues in the lower chamber pumped the brakes on the bill.

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