Trump, the Kentucky Republican said, “was pretty thoroughly discredited by this.”
“He put a gun to his head and pulled the trigger,” he said, standing in a Capitol doorway after midnight. “It couldn’t have come at a better time.”
“What do you mean about the Twenty-Fifth Amendment?” he asked Martin, eager to know whether the Cabinet and vice president could remove Trump from office, according to the book. Next, McConnell said, according to the book, that he spoke to Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (DN.Y.) and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) about the release of a joint statement telling Trump to stay away from the inauguration. A spokesperson for McConnell declined to comment on the book.
The early morning scene of January 7, 2021 provides another vivid account of how Republican leaders reacted in the immediate wake of January 6, clearly understanding the ramifications of the day and blaming Trump – only for much of the gone to change your tone later.
The 437-page book by Martin and fellow New York Times reporter Alexander Burns offers a behind-the-scenes account of Republican and Democratic politics during the 2020 election, presidential transition, and President Biden’s early term. . Parts of the book were reviewed by The Washington Post ahead of its release, scheduled for next Tuesday.
Parts of the book reviewed by The Post detail how leading Washington Republicans hated or were skeptical of Trump behind the scenes – but repeatedly capitulated to his demands, fearing his powerful and loyal base and ability to damage them politically. The book also illustrates how other Republicans miscalculated about Trump and his ability to hold the party together after the deadly Jan. 6 riot by a pro-Trump mob — and a mistaken sense that the fever proverbial policy would break.
The book also delves into some of the darkest episodes of Trump’s presidency – and how he used his extraordinary powers against Democratic and Republican opponents, and what happened to many of them after he unleashed his staunch supporters.
Much of the book focuses on a group of powerful Republicans in Washington, including McConnell, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (RS.C.), a a former Trump ally who often hesitated in private. . Throughout the book, countless Republicans speak ill of Trump privately, pointing out his erraticism and devious behavior, only to publicly praise him.
That night, with the attack etched in his mind, McConnell took a strident tone against Trump and his desire to reduce his influence in the future, according to the book. Citing the 2014 midterm elections, where McConnell attacked some of the far-right fringe candidates, he said he would eliminate Trump and his ilk by the 2022 midterms.
McConnell tells his staff that Trump is a “despicable person” and says he will take it politically.
“We crushed the sons of b—es,” he told Martin, according to the book, “and that’s what we’re going to do in primary in ’22.”
McConnell recalled his criticism of Trump since and said he would even support Trump if he was the Republican nominee in 2024 – and he did not vote to condemn the former president, arguing that was a waste of time because he had already left office.
In a recent interview, Trump told the Washington Post that McConnell was the most unpopular politician in the country and that he would even prefer Mitt Romney as Senate leader to McConnell.
“I’ll take anyone over McConnell,” Trump said. But McConnell retains the support of Republican senators, and if the party regains the chamber, even many of Trump’s advisers believe it would be difficult for the former president to unseat him. He’s also likely to face less backlash in the Senate, as Trump is hated more by Senate Republicans than by House Republicans.
Trump himself remains the most potent force in the Republican Party by any measure, even as his influence has waned, according to public and private polls. Last week, when the authors of ‘This Will Not Pass’ reported that McCarthy had privately told others that Trump should step down after Jan. 6, he faced backlash within the GOP and got out of hand. is eager to contain the fallout with Trump. McCarthy initially lied about these comments before the writers released a recording of him.
Dan Balz: Kevin McCarthy and the intoxication of power
McConnell, Trump said, was the reason he wasn’t “in the White House having this conversation,” the authors write, noting that Trump called him a “true beauty.” After the 2020 election, in his eyes, McConnell had failed to fight back. “Not content with insulting McConnell as a legislative leader and political tactician, Trump attacked the Kentucky senator’s family in racist language, smearing a woman who had served in his own cabinet for nearly the last two weeks of his presidency.” , write the authors. .
The book goes behind the scenes to prevent Trump from blocking a peaceful transition of power, even from some of his own advisers.
Martin and Burns report that Pelosi contacted former Republican President George W. Bush through an envoy, hoping Bush would quickly recognize Biden as the winner — a decision Bush had already decided to make on his own. A spokesperson for Pelosi declined to comment on the story.
In another section of the book, Chris Liddell, the deputy chief of staff in charge of presidential transition, carefully plots a transition while saying that the former president will never admit he lost and that they could be in a “nightmare scenario”.
In public, according to the book, Northern Ireland envoy Mick Mulvaney told Josh Bolten, Bush’s former White House chief of staff and now CEO of the Business Roundtable, that Trump might not go in peace – even though he later wrote a Wall Street Journal op-ed claiming he would. “If Trump loses, I’m not sure he’ll voluntarily leave office,” Mulvaney said in the book.
The book describes a number of outside and formal advisers trying to convince Trump to drop his false allegations of voter fraud – but the president adamantly refuses to concede the election or that his lawyers have made questionable remarks. “Chris, I will never concede,” Trump told former New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie, according to the book.
The authors use Graham as the central character in the book. After the election, “Graham was urging his fellow Republicans to give the president the space he needed to accept the election results. Trump would have a few weeks to rage and rant, but the votes would all be counted soon enough and the result would be indisputable,” the authors write.
Graham describes speaking to Trump on election day — and finding the former president more interested in a next round with a professional golfer.
The book places Graham at Senate luncheons, urging fellow Republicans to cooperate with Trump and even telling them his favorite nicknames for them.
It also describes Graham hiding in the Capitol as rioters descend, calling the White House attorney to threaten Trump’s impeachment. And it shows Graham back at Trump’s Mar-a-Lago club playing golf with him again.
In an interview with the former president, Martin and Burns write that Graham called him twice – and Trump answered the second time and put him on speakerphone.
“Tell them about Trump’s endorsements,” he asked the senator, according to the book.
“Graham, just three months after renouncing his allegiance to Trump on the Senate floor, jumped on it. “I’ve never seen it like this,” Graham said, adding, “President Trump’s endorsement is the most consistent endorsement of any politician I’ve seen in my 20 years.”
“‘Most importantly, could you tell them one thing,'” he prompted Graham. “Can Trump play golf? “”, write the authors.
“If you don’t believe him, go play with him,” the book cites Graham as an answer.
Out of Trump’s earshot, in an interview later that day, Graham joked about the man he was trying almost daily to appease in one form or another. Trump, he said, was always a good conversationalist when it came to his favorite subject: “As long as it’s about him, that’s a good thing,” Graham said.