Trump attacks McConnell in Republican donors speech in Mar-a-Lago
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 electoral fraud. It was not and the lie was repeatedly thrown out of court.
Earlier, the Associated Press reported that it obtained a Pentagon timeline of events on 6 January, which showed Pence demanding military leadership "clear the Capitol" of rioters sent by Trump.
Trump did nothing and around six hours passed between Pence’s order and the Capitol being cleared. Five people including a police officer died and some in the mob were recorded chanting "hang Mike Pence". More than 400 face charges.
In his remarks 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 task force.
Trump also said Covid-19 vaccines should be renamed “Trumpcines” in his honor.
According to Politico, the attack on McConnell concerned the senator's perceived failure to defend Trump with sufficient zeal in the impeachment trial which followed the Capitol riot.
Trump, who told supporters to march on the Capitol 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 on 6 January, 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 was transportation secretary until she resigned 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 decision to resign – "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. He regularly tops polls of Republican voters regarding possible candidates for 2024. On Saturday night, he reportedly left that possibility undiscussed.
On Sunday morning, the Arkansas governor Asa Hutchinson was asked if Trump’s remarks – and their reported enthusiastic reception by party donors and leaders – 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 … slim numbers in Washington and we got battles to fight, so we need to get beyond that."
At Mar-a-Lago, the Post said, the former president told Republicans to stick together.
"We can’t have these guys that like publicity," he said.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis, continuing his ongoing feud with most of the “corporate media,” on Thursday signed into law a contentious election bill during an event where only Fox News was allowed to observe.
Rudy Giuliani, the former personal lawyer for ex-president Donald Trump, has reduced the size of his personal entourage. Giuliani laid off several staffers and independent contractors in the last few weeks, according to one of the people, who said the ousted employees had been told that the former New York mayor was seeking to cut costs.
Former Navy Secretary Kenneth Braithwaite traversed the globe in his brief tenure under the Trump administration, spending about $2.4 million in air travel, according to figures and documents obtained by USA TODAY. Braithwaite spent $232,000 the week before President Joe Biden's inauguration to fly to Wake Island, a tiny Pacific atoll, where, according to Navy spokesman Capt. Jereal Dorsey, no sailors or Marines are stationed.
A small but powerful section of the Department of Justice (DOJ) is under renewed scrutiny after a federal judge tore into former Attorney General William Barr and ordered the DOJ to release a memo that let former President Trump claim he was exonerated by the Mueller probe. Critics of the Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), which provides legal advice to the White House and Cabinet agencies, have long argued it acts as a rubber stamp for the president and essentially drafts laws behind closed doors.