Top Trump ally Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) reportedly denied that the former president has been encouraging him to challenge Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) as Trump seeks revenge on the GOP leader.
Graham is on Trump’s shortlist of preferred leaders, with the former president repeatedly asking advisers if they think Graham would be willing to challenge McConnell, according to a report in The Daily Beast published Wednesday.
When asked about such a scheme, however, Graham denied knowing anything about the former president’s recruitment efforts. He laughed off the idea of replacing McConnell as leader in an interview with the Daily Beast.
He’s aware that Trump is “not pleased with” McConnell, Graham told the Beast, but when it comes to the former president asking him to challenge McConnell, Trump “has not gone down that road with me.”
Asked whether he would want to take the job of leader, Graham reportedly shot down the possibility by replying “not me” and “no” while chuckling.
McConnell earned Trump’s ire in the aftermath of the deadly Capitol insurrection last year, when the minority leader condemned the former president for his role in inciting the mob that stormed the Capitol. Despite McConnell ultimately voting to acquit Trump for “incitement of insurrection” in his second impeachment trial, Trump has taken the opportunity to knock McConnell whenever the Senate GOP leader has demonstrated insufficient loyalty.
McConnell, for his part, has continued to label Jan. 6 an “insurrection,” while also shifting focus away from that day in an effort to secure his party’s future.
The former president has reportedly been talking for some months about his recruitment effort to oust McConnell from his leadership perch if Republicans take back the Senate in 2022.
And Graham has at times parroted Trump’s anger toward McConnell, threatening to vote against the leader if he doesn’t “effectively work” with the former president.
But McConnell continues to shrug off Trump’s attacks. He even laughed off one of Trump’s nicknames for him — “Old Crow,” a moniker that the former president adopted months ago as part of his ongoing swipes toward McConnell.
“It’s my favorite bourbon,” McConnell quipped, referring to the Kentucky liquor of the same name.
He, for one, does not think Trump’s recruitment effort will bear fruit.
“Every reporter in town, including, I’m sure, you, have been probing to find one for months, right?” McConnell snarked to the Washington Examiner earlier this month, referring to a potential challenger to his re-election bid as leader. “Have you found one?”