Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) on Tuesday joined other GOP senators who have rallied behind Sen. Mike Rounds (R-KS) after former President Trump attacked him for daring to factually state that the 2020 presidential election was “fair.”
“I think Sen. Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election,” McConnell, who became one of Trump’s favorite punching bags after condemning the former president for his role in inciting the deadly Capitol insurrection last year, told CNN on Tuesday. “And I agree with him.”
McConnell’s defense of Rounds comes after the GOP senator has continued to stand by his refusal to boost the Big Lie of a “stolen” 2020 election during an interview on ABC News. The former president issued a screed a day after the interview, accusing Rounds of being “woke” and a “jerk” for not playing along with his election fraud falsehoods. Trump also vowed to never endorse Rounds, who isn’t up for re-election until 2026, again.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, Rounds said he was “disappointed but not surprised” by the former president’s irate rebuke of him.
“This isn’t new information. If we’re being honest, there was no evidence of widespread fraud that would have altered the results of the election,” Rounds said on Monday.
On Tuesday, Rounds reiterated his refusal to back down on his remarks that enraged Trump.
“Nobody is out looking for confrontations,” Rounds told CNN on Tuesday. “What we are looking for is to be able to provide good information in a timely fashion, but to be seen as being responsible and being honest. I think that’s what the American people deserve. And I think that’s what many of us want to do. We’re not looking to fight. What we’re looking is, is to say here are the facts, and they’re not going to change.”
“Why are we having that discussion today? I think because we’re getting closer and closer to 2022, in which we want people to get out and vote. We want them to have faith in the election process. We want them to feel like they’re a part of it and that their vote really matters,” Rounds added, in comments to CNN.
GOP senators have started coming to Rounds’ defense after the former president took aim at him.
Hours after Trump’s attack against Rounds on Monday, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) — who is also among the handful of Republicans defying Trump’s election fraud falsehoods and has been a target of the former president for his vocal criticism of him — tweeted that Rounds “speaks truth knowing that our Republic depends upon it.”
Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND), a Trump ally, got behind Rounds on Tuesday, saying that he wants to move on from Trump’s unsuccessful efforts to subvert the 2020 election results.
“I’ve always said I agree that the election was not stolen — at least to the degree that it was illegal theft,” Cramer told CNN. “I’ve moved on a long time ago, and most members of Congress have, including Mike.”
Sen. John Thune (R-SD), who was attacked by the former president for refusing to challenge Joe Biden’s electoral victory, made similar comments to CNN on Monday.
“I say to my colleague, welcome to the club,” Thune told CNN. “I don’t think re-litigating or rehashing the past is a winning strategy. If we want to be a majority in 2023, we’ve got to get out and articulate what we’re going to do with respect to the future the American people are going to live and the things they’re going to care about when it comes to economic issues, national security issues.”