Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) likely won't be able to steer clear of the "long arm" of former President Donald Trump should Republicans retake control of the Senate, according to one of the journalist authors of a new book taking Washington by storm.
The thin margin by which Republicans may take command of the upper chamber would be decked with candidates beholden to Trump, making it difficult for McConnell, poised to retake the majority leader role, to wriggle free of the former president's influence, New York Times reporter Alex Burns said during a TV appearance Wednesday.
"Mitch McConnell in so many ways [is] Exhibit A of Republicans who wish Trump would just fade away and finds now that’s not the case at all," Burns told CNN's Jake Tapper. "If Republicans take back the Senate majority this year, Jake, there’s a very strong chance the margin of control for Mitch McConnell will be candidates hand-picked by Donald Trump."
He alluded to the tricky situation in which Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) finds himself after the leak of private conversations he had with GOP colleagues, thanks to the reporting by Burns and New York Times colleague Jonathan Martin, criticizing Trump in the days immediately following the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
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"And as Kevin McCarthy has found in recent weeks after the reporting from this book became public, the long arm of Donald Trump is very long indeed. And those endorsements, that support, that indulgence from the former president does not come for free," Burns said.
In the Senate, Democrats and two independents have control, with Vice President Kamala Harris serving as a tiebreaker. But that could change next year with Trump-endorsed candidates such as Herschel Walker in Georgia running in the midterm elections this November. And Trump's influence could grow even among Senate seats already held by Republicans after J.D. Vance won the GOP primary in Ohio in the contest to replace retiring GOP Sen. Rob Portman.
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For their book released Tuesday, This Will Not Pass, Burns and Martin reported private comments from McConnell, the GOP leader in the upper chamber, speaking favorably of impeachment in the days after Jan. 6. But when it came to the impeachment trial, McConnell voted against conviction. And unlike McCarthy, who quickly sought to patch things up with Trump following the leaks about him as the California congressman pursues the House speaker role, McConnell has stayed quiet about the whole ordeal.
McConnell "doesn’t need to” say anything because he doesn’t need Trump’s support to keep his leadership post, one anonymous Republican senator told the Hill.