Mitch McConnell To Meet With Trump For The First Time Since Jan. 6 Attack

WASHINGTON — Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will attend a meeting with former President Donald Trump this week ― their first in-person sit-down since shortly before the Jan. 6, 2021, insurrection at the U.S. Capitol, for which McConnell once said Trump was “practically and morally” responsible.

McConnell told reporters on Tuesday that he would join other GOP senators Thursday at the National Republican Senatorial Committee offices on Capitol Hill with Trump to discuss the 2024 election and the GOP agenda next year. Republicans are hoping to pass another round of tax cuts if they take back the Senate and the White House in November.

After condemning Trump’s role in the Jan. 6 attack in a fiery speech on the Senate floor, McConnell said in February 2021 that he would nevertheless support the former president if he once again became the GOP presidential nominee.

The two men have had no contact since then, however, maintaining a frosty relationship punctuated by Trump’s dozens of attacks against McConnell and his wife, Elaine Chao (including some racist ones). In March, McConnell formally announced he would be supporting Trump in the 2024 contest.

“I don’t think they’ve had any natural reason to get together,” Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.) told HuffPost when asked about McConnell’s relationship with Trump. “You know, Mitch is all about the institution of the Senate. I don’t think it’s anything more than Mitch showing respect for our presidential nominee and showing up for the rest of us as a conference.”

McConnell has been loath to mention Trump by name, and regularly refuses to answer questions about him during weekly press conferences on Capitol Hill. But circumstances in the Senate GOP conference are clearly favoring stronger bonds with Trump, now a convicted felon who sought to stay in power despite losing the 2020 presidential election, and who whipped up a frenzy of supporters to prevent Joe Biden from becoming president.

McConnell’s decision to step down as GOP leader in the Senate after the November election has also marked a shift in the conference, with would-be successors already jockeying for influence with Trump and his allies in the Capitol.

At a rally in Las Vegas over the weekend, Trump praised Jan. 6 rioters as “warriors” and falsely claimed that the attack was a “setup” by police officers.

Republicans have largely overlooked such attempts to whitewash the attack, rallying behind Trump even as he faces felony charges in Washington relating to election subversion and in Florida over his handling of classified documents.

“People want to know ‘what are you going to do for me going forward,’ not relive the past, so I would encourage him to talk about the future,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) said when asked about Trump’s latest Jan. 6 comments.