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Donald Trump vs. Mitch McConnell: A GOP Civil War?

Donald Trump
Donald Trump speaking to supporters at an immigration policy speech at the Phoenix Convention Center in Phoenix, Arizona.

Former President Donald Trump is escalating his feud with Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell. In a post on Truth Social, Trump encouraged Republicans to challenge McConnell (and senators who vote alongside McConnell) in the primary elections. Republicans need to “stop” McConnell, according to Trump.

“It’s as though he just doesn’t care anymore, he pushes through anything the Democrats want. The $1.7 TRILLION quickly approved Bill of the week before was HORRIBLE,” Trump wrote, referencing last month’s government spending bill. “Zero for USA Border Security. If he waited just ten days, the now ‘United Republican Congress’ could have made it MUCH BETTER, or KILLED IT.

“Something is wrong with McConnell, and those Republican Senators that Vote with him. PRIMARY THEM ALL!!!” All caps. Three exclamation marks. The former president is fired up about this.

Donald Trump and McConnell’s relationship has been frosty for awhile

Trump and McConnell’s relationship frosted over pretty quickly when McConnell criticized Trump following the January 6th, 2021, Capitol riot.

The thin-skinned Trump didn’t appreciate McConnell’s criticism and lashed out, calling for Republicans to mount a primary challenge against McConnell. The relationship has never reset back to normal and remains frosty today.

But Trump’s popularity has depreciated significantly since he first began his feud with McConnell, meaning Trump’s calls for the GOP to mount a primary challenge against one of its most established figures is less likely to be heeded.

Trump’s popularity has been fading – thanks to an endless variety of lawsuits, investigations, and scandals – and thanks to Trump’s inability to win an election. In 2022, Trump endorsees were trounced at the midterms, losing in all but one battleground state elections. Trump himself lost his last election, of course – the 2020 presidential election, which Joe Biden won by 7 million votes. Accordingly, Trump’s directives have a bit less weight than they used to.

Actually, just last month, McConnell implied that he regretted deferring to Trump’s handpicked candidates in the 2022 primaries, which culminated in impressive defeats and “a larger Democratic majority.” McConnell promises not to repeat the mistakes he made in 2022 happen again; he promises to “actively look for quality candidates.” McConnell also criticized Trump more directly, pointing out that Trump’s power is declining.

“Here’s what I think has changed,” McConnell said. “I think the former president’s political clout has diminished.” McConnell continued, saying that he was “less inclined to accept cards that may be dealt to us” and that “we can do a better job with less potential interference. The former president may have other things to do.”   

The reduced reverence with which Republicans treat Trump’s decrees was made quite clear last week when a contingent of conservative Republicans cut against Trump’s endorsement of Kevin McCarthy for Speaker of the House. Instead of heeding Trump’s endorsement, a group of Freedom Caucus members held out for thirteen consecutive votes – forcing the longest speakership election process in 150 years and extracting plenty of concessions along the way.

Curiously, the Republican holdouts were mostly pro-Trumpers. Representatives like Matt Gaetz and Lauren Boebert. So, if the pro-Trump crowd is willing to cut against Trump’s inputs – in a very public fashion – don’t expect Donald Trump to hold much weight with the more mainstream Republican crowd.

Trump will have his hands full in winning his own primary for the 2024 GOP presidential nominee. The crowd is expected to be dense; Trump’s victory is far from guaranteed.

Harrison Kass is the Senior Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, Harrison joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison holds a BA from Lake Forest College, a JD from the University of Oregon, and an MA from New York University. Harrison lives in Oregon and listens to Dokken.

Written By

Harrison Kass is a Senior Defense Editor at 19FortyFive. An attorney, pilot, guitarist, and minor pro hockey player, he joined the US Air Force as a Pilot Trainee but was medically discharged. Harrison has degrees from Lake Forest College, the University of Oregon School of Law, and New York University’s Graduate School of Arts & Sciences. He lives in Oregon and regularly listens to Dokken.



  1. CB

    January 10, 2023 at 11:19 am

    McConnell needs to take his communist wife and move to China.

  2. froike

    January 10, 2023 at 1:16 pm

    McConnel is part of The Swamp…..period. He could never be trusted.
    As CB stated….He has Millions invested in Red Chinese Shipping Firms.
    He’s as bad as all The Lefty Demonrat Traitors.

  3. Matthew

    January 14, 2023 at 4:17 pm

    Mcturtle has always been about building and protecting his own power base and wealth.

    Mcturtle began stabbing Trump in the back on Jan 21, 2017.
    It took awhile for the pattern to emerge that every single appointment made upon the mcturlte cabal’s recommendations, were all working against Trump.

    Unfortunately, that continues to this day with various judges appointed via the mcturtle cabal’s recommendations and votes.

    Mctrutle, not Teump, worked with the demokkkrats, colluded and conspired, to ensure the general election losses of some of Trump’s endorsements. Why? Because they were decidedly open and public about their disdain for mcturtle and rinos.

    1945 has become openly, fantastically anti-Trump under the xi-den admin…
    I wonder how much of that is due to “give the chinese top level intel/yes madame speaker, I won’t allow anything to happen without your ok” traitor milley and “I hate America” Austin with his chinese aide.. who just happened to be involved with arranging classified info to be made available, unmonitored, to Hunter Biden at various biden controlled properties and offices. (visitor logs to these locations are desperately being hidden by xiden and the demokkkrats).
    All the anti-Trump propaganda however is trumped by reality. Trump is still out ahead of any potential primary opponent by 30% or more (of likely Republican voters) despite the fantasies of Paul Ryan and writers here.
    Personally, I think, and hope, that Trump will get Ron DeSantis as VP, go in and turn the district of corruption upside down and clean it out while also performing any other needed tasks to repair all the damage of the xi-den admin and cleaning house in the Republican party.
    Then 2 years and 2 days after swearing in as 47th US President, Trump declares victory, that his purposes are complete, resigns and hands over the, less than two years remaining, to DeSantis.
    Ron DeSantis becomes 48th US President and wins the office twice in the following election cycles. (And with a good VP, his VP then wins at least one term).. that timeline pretty much does it for me.
    And for those who say “DeSantis would never be Trump’s VP”…
    The allure of a guaranteed Presidency for at least two years and a chance to be President for 10 would be a powerful reason.
    Also, if that was NOT in “the cards”, tell me why Trump would register for his run for office using an address in Virginia, NOT Florida?

    Trump amd DeSantis are toying with the Republican establishment with the whole “Trump vs DeSantis” game.. The “grand compromise” of Trump with DeSantis as VP will galvanize the Republican base and the “establishment” “r” voter who will be convinced Trump will get himself impeached and “their guy” will then take the office.

    The reports of Trump’s political demise are wildly wrong and more along the lines pf a desperately heart sick rejected suitor that the object of their obsession will come to harm for rejecting them.

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