Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) gave a speech that seemed to make everyone angry on Saturday, blaming Donald Trump for “a disgraceful dereliction of duty” even as he voted to clear the former president of impeachment charges earlier in the day.
Criticism is even coming from friendly quarters, with Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) warning Sunday that McConnell’s words had “put a load on the back of Republicans” as the party looks to take back Congress in 2022.
Graham: McConnell’s not helping
According to Breitbart, Graham called McConnell an “outlier” in his sentiments after the Kentucky senator held Trump “practically and morally responsible” for a riot at the Capitol that figured at the center of a second impeachment, which ended with Trump’s acquittal Saturday.
Joe Biden quoted McConnell in a statement blasting Trump, according to USA Today, as Democrats accused McConnell of trying to play it both ways by refusing to hold the trial when Trump was still in office.
However much it helped McConnell, his venting made things more difficult for his party down the line, Graham said.
“I think Senator McConnell’s speech, he got a load off a chest obviously, but unfortunately he put a load on the back of Republicans,” he told Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday, according to Breitbart.
“That speech you will see in 2022 campaigns,” Graham added. “I would imagine if you’re a Republican running in Arizona or Georgia or New Hampshire, where we have a chance to take back the Senate, they may be playing Senator McConnell’s speech and asking about it as a candidate.”
Uniting behind “vibrant” Trump
Graham also defended Trump in his Sunday talk, saying the former president did not provoke the “pre-planned” riot despite saying Trump shared “narratives about the election that I think are not sound and not true,” according to Fox News. He joined Democrats in calling for a 9/11-style commission to investigate the event, however.
Asked about the party’s future, Graham called Trump the most “vibrant” and “potent” force the GOP has and called on the party to unite behind “Trump plus,” according to the Daily Caller. He also said that Trump is ready to campaign for the party in 2022, despite harboring some anger towards certain Republicans.
“The Trump movement is alive and well. People believe that he brought change to Washington,” Graham said.
McConnell told Politico over the weekend that his first priority is gaining back the majority and suggested he would be willing to butt heads with Trump if necessary to achieve that end.
“Some of them may be people the former president likes. Some of them may not be,” McConnell said. “The only thing I care about is electability.”