Donald Trump's efforts to seek revenge against Republicans he views as insufficiently loyal could be a "real setback" for the Republican Party, Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell said on Wednesday.
On Tuesday, The New York Times reported Sen. John Thune (R-SD) was considering retirement.
"Senator John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate Republican and a potential future leader, is seriously considering retiring after next year, a prospect that has set off an intensifying private campaign from other Republicans urging him to seek re-election. Mr. Thune is only 60, but a combination of family concerns and former President Donald J. Trump’s enduring grip on the Republican Party have prompted the senator, who is in his third term, to tell associates and reporters in his home state that 2022 could be his last year in Congress," the newspaper reported.
McConnell was asked about Thune's potential retirement during an appearance on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt's show.
"John Thune is an outstanding senator. He's done a great job as whip, which is our number two position in the Senate," McConnell argued. "It would be a real setback from the country and our party if he retires. "I certainly hope he won't."
Exactly one year ago today, Trump vowed on Twitter to end Thune's career.
"Republicans in the Senate so quickly forget. Right now they would be down 8 seats without my backing them in the last Election. RINO John Thune, 'Mitch’s boy', should just let it play out. South Dakota doesn’t like weakness. He will be primaried in 2022, political career over!!!" Trump declared.
Following the Jan. 6 insurrection by Trump supporters seeking to overturn the election, Thune said Trump's actions were "inexcusable."
"What former President Trump did to undermine faith in our election system and disrupt the peaceful transfer of power is inexcusable," Thune said in a statement. “I have faith in the American people and the strength of our democracy.”
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