Donald Trump and Mitch McConnell's Relationship Is Rapidly Deteriorating

The relationship between former President Donald Trump and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) appeared to deteriorate further this week after the senator praised the recently passed infrastructure bill.

Trump issued a statement on Wednesday criticizing McConnell for supporting the bill and calling him an "old crow," while McConnell again said that the upcoming 2022 midterm elections would likely be "about the future and not the past."

The former president has repeatedly criticized McConnell since leaving office and ratcheted up that criticism as McConnell came out in support of the $1.2 trillion bipartisan infrastructure bill.

McConnell was one of just 19 Republicans who voted to approve the bill in August when it passed in the Senate.

It passed in the House of Representatives on Friday and the senator said he was "delighted," referring to the bill as a "godsend" for his home state of Kentucky.

Trump responded by calling the Republican "Old Crow Mitch McConnell" and said he was "incapable" of passing an infrastructure plan while Trump was in office.

McConnell hasn't responded directly to Trump's criticism, but he has repeatedly said that the Republican Party should focus on the future and campaigning against President Joe Biden's administration in the midterms.

He expressed that sentiment in Kentucky on Monday, saying: "I think the key to '22 is to have a discussion with the American people about the new administration, the Democratic Congress and what they're doing. I think the election will be about the future and not the past."

That kind of exchange has become typical of Trump and McConnell's relationship: The former president openly criticizes McConnell and the senator responds by saying his party should focus on the future, suggesting Trump is part of the past.

Trump and McConnell are the nation's two most prominent Republicans, but their relationship has noticeably deteriorated since January, when McConnell refused to support a plan to object to Electoral College votes based on unsubstantiated claims of fraud in the 2020 election.

"If this election were overturned by mere allegations from the losing side, our democracy would enter a death spiral," McConnell said at the time.

During Trump's second impeachment in February - following the Capitol riot on January 6 - McConnell said the former president was "practically and morally responsible" for the event, but voted to acquit him, citing the fact that Trump was no longer in office.

Since then, Trump has continued to maintain that the 2020 election suffered from fraud and offered periodic criticism of McConnell while also remaining a major force in the Republican Party and a favored presidential nominee among GOP voters.

In April, Trump told the Fox Business Network that Senate Republicans should replace McConnell, who has led the Senate Republican caucus since 2007 and hasn't been opposed by other GOP senators.

"We need good leadership. Mitch McConnell has not done a great job. I think they should change Mitch McConnell," Trump said.

McConnell responded to the remark when asked about it by Fox News and said: "We're looking to the future, not the past."

Trump May Be Part of the Future

However, Trump may not yet be in the Republican Party's past. He has repeatedly teased an announcement about another run at the White House, saying his supporters will be "very happy" with his decision and suggesting he'll make an announcement after the midterms.

Trump has also continued to endorse Republican candidates and touted his endorsements as a key factor when those candidates win, most recently Virginia governor-elect Glenn Youngkin. Though Youngkin kept his distance from Trump on the campaign trail, the former president attributed Youngkin's win to his supporters.

The strained relationship between McConnell and Trump could complicate matters in the midterm elections and especially if Republicans take back the House, Senate or both as Trump may attempt to exert influence on GOP majorities.

If Republicans fail to retake the Senate, Trump may publicly place the blame on McConnell and push for his replacement, while another Trump presidential bid could also put McConnell in a difficult position as he urges Republicans to look to the future.

It's unlikely that either Trump or McConnell will depart from the political scene in the near future, but the ongoing rift between them could spell trouble for Republicans in 2022 and beyond.

Photo Composite Shows McConnell and Trump
A composite image shows Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and former President Donald Trump. The relationship between the two Republicans has deteriorated since January.