In public, Mr. McConnell has sharply criticized Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the extremist freshman and Trump devotee from Georgia, while defending Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming after her vote to impeach the former president.
What Mr. McConnell has not done, though, is openly declare political war on Mr. Trump in the fashion that the former president did to him on Tuesday. While telling associates he knew he would have to oppose the former president in some primaries next year, he had hoped to unify his caucus by turning attention to Mr. Biden.
But if Mr. McConnell wasn’t eager to begin an open and protracted feud with Mr. Trump, at least not yet, the freshly acquitted, ever-pugnacious and newly deplatformed former president was happy to do so. One person close to Mr. Trump said his initial version of the statement was more incendiary than what was released publicly.
In the statement, Mr. Trump resorted to insults about Mr. McConnell’s acumen and political abilities, and faulted him for Republicans’ loss of their Senate majority.
“The Republican Party can never again be respected or strong with political ‘leaders’ like Sen. Mitch McConnell at its helm,” Mr. Trump said. “McConnell’s dedication to business as usual, status quo policies, together with his lack of political insight, wisdom, skill, and personality, has rapidly driven him from majority leader to minority leader, and it will only get worse.”
Mr. Trump offered up some new taunts: “The Democrats and Chuck Schumer play McConnell like a fiddle — they’ve never had it so good — and they want to keep it that way!” he said. “We know our America First agenda is a winner, not McConnell’s Beltway First agenda or Biden’s America Last.”
While Mr. McConnell has faulted the former president for the party’s losses last month in both Senate races in Georgia, Mr. Trump maintained that it was because Republican voters were angry that the party’s officials had not done more to address his baseless claims of widespread voter fraud.