April 17th, 2024

McConnell endorses Trump for president. He once blamed Trump for ‘disgraceful’ Jan. 6, 2021, attack

By Lisa Mascaro, The Associated Press on March 6, 2024.

FILE - President Donald Trump, left, and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., greet each other during a campaign rally in Lexington, Ky., Nov. 4, 2019. McConnell is the highest ranking Republican in Congress who has yet to endorse Donald Trump's bid to return to the White House. But that's potentially about to change. McConnell's political team and Trump's campaign have been in talks over a possible endorsement and a strategy to unite Republicans on the party's ticket for the November election. (AP Photo/Timothy D. Easley, File)

WASHINGTON (AP) – Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell endorsed Donald Trump for president Wednesday, a remarkable turnaround from the onetime critic who blamed the former president for “disgraceful” acts in the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack but now supports his bid to return to the White House.

McConnell, who was the last top GOP leader in Congress to fall in line with Trump, declared his support in a short statement after Super Tuesday wins pushed the GOP front-runner closer to the party nomination.

The two men had not spoken since 2020 when McConnell declared Democrat Joe Biden the winner of the that year’s presidential election. But more recently, their teams had reopened talks about an endorsement.

“It is abundantly clear that former President Trump has earned the requisite support of Republican voters to be our nominee for President of the United States,” McConnell said in the statement.

McConnell said, “It should come as no surprise that as nominee, he will have my support.”

The nod from McConnell, who has criticized Trump as “morally responsible” for the 2021 mob siege of the Capitol, lends an imprimatur of institutional legitimacy to the indicted former president’s bid to return to the White House.

It comes after McConnell made his own sudden announcement last week he would step down after this term as leader, a position he has held longer than any other senator, and as he tries one more time to win back Republican control of the Senate, with Trump likely at the top of the GOP ticket.

Trump now counts the GOP leaders in Congress, including Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Republicans vying to replace McConnell as leader, as backing his bid for the White House.

McConnell said he and Trump “worked together to accomplish great things for the American people.”

__ Associated Press writer Mary Clare Jalonick contributed to this report.

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