‘Dumb son of a bitch’: Trump attacks McConnell in Republican donors speech

At Mar-a-Lago, former president also goes after Fauci and Chao … and claims party ‘can’t have these guys that like publicity’

Donald Trump devoted part of a speech to Republican donors on Saturday night to insulting the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell. According to multiple reports of the $400,000-a-ticket, closed-press event, the former president called the Kentucky senator “a dumb son of a bitch”.

Trump also said Mike Pence, his vice-president, should have had the “courage” to object to the certification of electoral college results at the US Capitol on 6 January. Trump claims his defeat by Joe Biden, by 306-232 in the electoral college and more than 7m votes, was the result of fraud. It was not and the lie was thrown out of court.

Earlier, the Associated Press reported that a Pentagon timeline of events on 6 January showed Pence demanding military leaders “clear the Capitol” of rioters sent by Trump.

But Trump did nothing and about six hours passed before the Capitol was cleared. Five people including a police officer died and some in the mob were recorded chanting “hang Mike Pence”. More than 400 face charges.

At his Mar-a-Lago resort on Saturday, amid a weekend of Republican events in Florida, some at Trump properties, the former president also mocked Dr Anthony Fauci.

“Have you ever seen somebody who is so full of crap?“ Trump reportedly said about the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Joe Biden’s top medical adviser who was a key member of Trump’s coronavirus taskforce.

Trump also said Covid-19 vaccines should be renamed “Trumpcines” in his honour.

According to Politico, the attack on McConnell concerned his failure to defend Trump with sufficient zeal in the impeachment trial which followed the Capitol riot.

Trump, who told supporters to march on Congress and “fight like hell”, was charged with inciting an insurrection. He was acquitted when only seven Republican senators voted to convict, not enough to reach the super-majority needed. McConnell voted to acquit, then excoriated Trump on the Senate floor.

Of the certification of the election result, according to the Washington Post, Trump said: “If that were [Chuck] Schumer [the Democratic Senate leader] instead of this dumb son of a bitch Mitch McConnell, they would never allow it to happen. They would have fought it.”

Trump also attacked McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who resigned as transportation secretary over the Capitol riot, just before the end of Trump’s term.

“I hired his wife,” Trump said, according to the Post. “Did he ever say thank you?”

He also ridiculed her resignation – “She suffered so greatly,” the Post reported him saying, his “voice dripping with sarcasm” – and said he had won her husband’s Senate seat for him.

Trump has attacked McConnell before, in February calling him a “dour, sullen and unsmiling political hack”. On Saturday night he also reportedly called him a “stone cold loser”. McConnell did not immediately comment.

The former president remains barred from social media over the Capitol riot but he retains influence and has begun to issue endorsements for the 2022 midterms. Most have been in line with the party hierarchy, including backing Marco Rubio, a Florida senator and former presidential rival many expected would attract a challenge from Trump’s daughter Ivanka.

Trump’s acquittal in his second impeachment left him free to run for the White House again. He regularly tops polls of Republican voters regarding possible candidates for 2024. On Saturday night, he reportedly left that possibility undiscussed.

On Sunday the Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson was asked if Trump’s remarks helped or hindered the Republican cause.

“Anything that’s divisive is a concern,” Hutchinson told CNN’s State of the Union, “and is not helpful for us fighting the battles in Washington and at the state level.

“In some ways it’s not a big deal what he said. But at the same time whenever it draws attention, we don’t need that. We need unity, we need to be focused together, we have … battles to fight, so we need to get beyond that.”

Politico reported discontent among donors, who it said mostly wanted to focus on winning in 2022 and 2024.

“It was horrible, it was long and negative,” the website quoted a source who accompanied a donor as saying. “It was dour. He didn’t talk about the positive things that his administration has done.”

Politico said Trump “lavished praise” on two possible 2024 contenders, Ron DeSantis, the governor of Florida, and Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota. The Wisconsin senator Ron Johnson, a stalwart ally who has repeated conspiracy theories about the Capitol attack, also came in for praise.

The Post reported that Trump told Republicans to stick together.

“We can’t have these guys that like publicity,” he said.


Martin Pengelly

The GuardianTramp

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