For the second week in a row, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell had to start out his Tuesday press appearance by dressing down his party’s former president and de facto front-runner for the 2024 nomination.
“First, let me just say that anyone seeking the presidency who thinks that the Constitution should somehow be suspended or not followed seems to me would have a very hard time being sworn in as the president of the U.S.,” McConnell told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday, clearly exasperated at having to formally condemn Trump’s remarks when he really wanted to talk about the GOP agenda on the Hill.
This week, it was a proactive response to expected questions about Trump’s endorsement of throwing out the Constitution – the document he swore to uphold when he was sworn in as president in 2017 – because of what Trump said was Twitter’s unfair treatment of him during the 2020 election.
Last Tuesday, in his weekly presser after the Senate party luncheons on the second floor of the Capitol, it was antisemistim and white nationalism that McConnell was forced to address in advance.
Then, the post-luncheon press availability came after disclosures Trump dined with Nick Fuentes, a Holocaust denier, and the rapper Kanye “Ye” West, whose antisemitic rants have cost him business sponsorships.
“First, let me just say that there is no room in the Republican Party for antisemitism or white supremacy,” McConnell said last week.
And both weeks, McConnell delivered what he believed to be the punishment for Trump’s behavior.
“Anyone meeting with people advocating that point of view, in my judgment, are highly unlikely to ever be elected president of the United States,” McConnell said last week, declining to say whether he would vote for or against Trump if he were the nominee.
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Tuesday this week, it was deja vu all over again, with McConnell noting the intrinsic relationship between the Constitution and the presidential oath of office.
“What I’m saying is it would be pretty hard to be sworn in to the presidency if you’re not willing to uphold the Constitution,” McConnell said when pressed further on the matter. “That’s what I said, and I’ve just said it again.”
And again, McConnell would not give an answer on whether or not he would support Trump in 2024.
The ghosts of Trump’s presidency and kicking-and-screaming departure from the White House continue to dog McConnell, who has made no secret of his annoyance over his party’s inability to retake control of the Senate in the midterm elections. “Candidate quality,” McConnell said of his party’s nominees, was an issue.
Earlier Tuesday, McConnell and his House counterpart, Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy of California, were obviously and dramatically snubbed by the family of the late U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian Sicknick, who was posthumously honored with the Congressional Gold Medal for his heroism during the Capitol insurrection Jan, 6, 2021.
As Sicknick’s family accepted the award, they shook hands with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, New York Democrat. They then very deliberately ignored the outstretched hands of McConnell and McCarthy as the GOP sought to congratulate them, footage of the event shows.
“They’re just two-faced,” Gladys Sicknick, Brian’s mother, told CNN afterward. “I’m just tired of them standing there and saying how wonderful the Capitol Police is, and then they turn around and … go down to Mar-a-Lago and kiss his ring.
“It just hurts,” she added.
Some Republicans have downplayed the events of Jan. 6, calling the insurrectionists “patriots.” McCarthy, who initially blamed Trump for the events that day, has since cozied up to Trump at the former president’s Mar-a-Lago estate.