Senate leader McConnell wants no part of the ex-President….
House leader McCarthy tried, but has been unable break from Trump’s grip….
The Grand ole’ Party Civil War heats up…
The two men now leading the Republican Party usually align during political crises. But the Trumpian chaos splintering the G.O.P. is not only testing Kevin McCarthy, the House minority leader, and Mitch McConnell, the Senate minority leader — it’s also highlighting their differences in how to handle the former president and hampering a united strategy for retaking Congress next year.
This past week illustrated Mr. McCarthy’s challenge. In a conference call on Wednesday, he instructed House Republicans to “cut the crap,” according to two officials who participated. While he didn’t specify what he had in mind, there were plenty of options, from Republicans’ trying to punish Representative Liz Cheney for voting to impeach former President Donald J. Trump to the extremism of Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene, the QAnon devotee whose paper trail of conspiracy mongering keeps growing.
Then on Thursday, Mr. McCarthy made a pilgrimage to Mar-a-Lago to meet with Mr. Trump and declare that the former president was “committed to helping elect Republicans in the House and Senate in 2022.” Hours later, two of Mr. Trump’s most enthusiastic lieutenants, his eldest son and Representative Matt Gaetz, used a rally in Wyoming to highlight one Republican they’re committed to helping elect next year: whoever challenges Ms. Cheney in her primary….
For Mr. McConnell, the path to reclaiming the majority decidedly does not go through Mr. Trump. The Kentucky senator has stopped speaking to Mr. Trump, hasn’t taken his calls since after the Electoral College met last month and has told associates that he envisions 2022 as an outsized replay of the Tea Party era, when party leaders clashed with the far right.
He was puzzled by Mr. McCarthy’s trek to see Mr. Trump this week because he fears a Trump-dominated party will lead to disaster in party primaries and losses in key Senate races like those in Pennsylvania and Arizona.
Mr. Trump may be off Twitter and on the golf course, but even in his political afterlife he is complicating life for Republicans in Washington. Just over a week since he left office, a president who took little interest in the intricacies of Capitol Hill politics while in office is wreaking havoc on the House and Senate G.O.P. caucuses, slowing the party’s attempt to unify in opposition to the Democratic-controlled capital.
While few Senate Republican leaders are eager to follow Mr. McCarthy and join Mr. Trump for a photo opportunity, they so far have not been able to extricate themselves from the former president. The impeachment trial, which begins the week of Feb. 8, and the growing debate over whether the Senate should at least censure Mr. Trump is setting the stage for a Trumpian loyalty test in the same chamber that was ransacked by a violent mob earlier this month…
image…Doug Mills /NY Times