On CNN Wednesday, congressional correspondent Manu Raju reported on the reaction of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to former President Donald Trump's personal attack calling him a "dour, sullen, and unsmiling political hack" and warning he will intervene in primaries to oppose his direction for the party.
"Mitch McConnell actually laughed about Donald Trump's statement when he first saw this, according to a source familiar with the matter," said Raju. "Mitch McConnell has no plans to respond. In fact, I'm told by multiple sources that he plans to ignore Donald Trump altogether as he tries to navigate the post-Trump era ... [he] is making clear privately that he does not want to get into a back and forth with Donald Trump. Instead he wants to focus squarely on Republicans who can win key Senate races in primaries and focus on targeting the Biden agenda, believing that that can unify Republicans going forward."
The feud between Trump and McConnell was escalated when the Republican leader sharply criticized the former president's conduct leading up to the Capitol riots, saying the courts should investigate it even as he voted to acquit Trump on a process argument. And, Raju noted, they could clash again over Senate contests in the 2022 cycle.
"Donald Trump has said that he plans to engage himself in Senate primaries, and that could set up a clash between McConnell and his high-spending super PAC, and Donald Trump, who is trying to push people in his mold," said Raju. "And McConnell's approach differs sharply from Kevin McCarthy, who went down to Mar-a-Lago in the aftermath of the riot, got into Donald Trump's good graces, claimed that they would be unified to take back the House. All showing the divide in the party in how to deal with Trump now that he's out of office."