Mitch McConnell will “absolutely” support Donald Trump if the former president wins the Republican nomination for the 2024 presidential election, the GOP senate minority leader told Fox News on Thursday.
He said there are “at least” four Republicans “plus some governors and others” who plan to run.
Days earlier, Mr McConnell claimed the former president was “practically and morally responsible for provoking” the 6 January insurrection after he was acquitted in his impeachment trial for inciting the riot fuelled by his supporters’ belief in the lie that the election was “stolen” from them.
On 13 February, Mr McConnell said: “They did this because they had been fed wild falsehoods by the most powerful man on earth. Because he was angry. He had lost an election. Former President Trump’s actions preceded the riot were a disgraceful, disgraceful dereliction of duty.”
Mr McConnell was among a majority of Senate Republicans to voted against convicting the former president. A vote of 57-43 to convict fell short of a two-thirds majority to secure a conviction.
Following the riot, Mr McConnell said that the “mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people”.
The senator, then the majority leader, delayed an impeachment trial in the Senate until after Mr Trump was no longer in office. He was impeached in the House of Representatives on 13 January, seven days before Joe Biden was inaugurated.
Mr McConnell then backed a motion tabled by Senator Rand Paul that argued to dismiss the impeachment trial entirely, on the grounds that it would be unconstitutional to impeach a person who is no longer in office. That motion did not pass, nor did a similar move supported by Mr McConnell as the trial was underway.
“There’s a lot to happen between now and ‘24,” he told Fox News on Thursday. “There’s no incumbent, it should be a wide open race, and fun for you all to cover.”
His comments follow the opening of this year’s Conservative Political Action Conference, at which Mr Trump will headline.
“I don’t have any advice to give the former president about what he should say or where he should speak,” Mr McConnell said.