WASHINGTON: Addressing a meeting of affluent donors and top Republican officials, Donald Trump spent more time lashing out at fellow Republicans – and most sharply at their Senate leader – than at Democrats, news media reported Sunday.
The former president, speaking Saturday to members of the Republican National Committee at his Mar-a-Lago resort in Florida, called for party unity in the wake of his loss to Joe Biden and the party’s loss of Senate control.
But his polarising ways and piercing criticism of fellow party members have created awkward complications for Republican leaders as they look to 2022 midterm elections and beyond.
As Trump continued on Saturday to assert falsely that he won the November election, he particularly excoriated Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell, calling him a “dumb (expletive)” and a “stone-cold loser”.
Trump has blamed McConnell for not fighting to block Congress’s Jan 6 certification of Biden’s election victory – certification that took place only after a pro-Trump mob violently stormed the Capitol building.
McConnell later declared that Trump was “practically and morally responsible” for the deadly attack.
Did he say thank you?
The former president, in his remarks Saturday, also criticised McConnell’s wife, Elaine Chao, who was Trump’s transportation secretary but who resigned following the events of Jan 6.
“I hired his wife. Did he ever say thank you?” Trump said, before mocking Chao for resigning.
He then said he was “disappointed” in his own vice-president, Mike Pence, for his role in certifying the election result.
And he again attacked top US scientist Anthony Fauci, saying the epidemiologist is “full of crap”.
Without mentioning the more than 560,000 Americans who have died of Covid-19, Trump praised Republicans such as Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for reopening their states early, in defiance of experts’ advice.
During the Mar-a-Lago meeting, which some Republicans said they hoped would focus more on the party’s path forward, Trump instead rehashed past grievances, including his criticism of Republican officials in Georgia and Pennsylvania who had refused to support his claims of a stolen election.
Describing the crowd at his Jan 6 rally – several thousand people drawn to Washington by Trump’s frequent pleas on Twitter – he claimed that “some people say it was over a million people”, a considerable exaggeration.
McConnell did not attend the Mar-a-Lago event. He has told advisers he has not spoken to Trump in months and never plans to do so again, according to The Washington Post.