Republican voters have learned they can’t expect much from their incumbent leaders in the upper chamber. While the top contender for the Republican presidential nomination is targeted by an array of political witch hunts, Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and most of GOP Senate leadership are missing in action, again.
On Tuesday, Trump was handed a third indictment as he leads the crowded race in the Republican presidential primary. Special Counsel Jack Smith charged the former president with a series of crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol riot and Trump’s objections to the administration of the 2020 election — objections like those Democrats have made for decades. Trump was charged with conspiracy to defraud the United States, conspiracy to violate civil rights, obstructing an official proceeding, and conspiring to do so. The fact that Trump explicitly ordered demonstrators to protest “peacefully,” or that the barriers were breached before the president was even finished speaking, was apparently lost on federal prosecutors. Trump could have spent the day talking about the weather and still would have been indicted — unlike, say, the current Democrat occupant of the White House.
House Republicans were quick to condemn the outright weaponization of law enforcement against the regime’s primary political opponent.
On Twitter, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy accused the Justice Department of unleashing new indictments to protect the president from bad publicity. After outlining a series of recent revelations in the Biden family corruption scandals, McCarthy chastised the DOJ for its “attempt to distract from the news and attack the frontrunner for the Republican nomination, President Trump.”
The suspicious timeline of the various Trump indictments corroborates the speaker’s point.
House Republican Conference Chair Elise Stefanik also released a statement that accused the DOJ of political interference.
“Today’s sham indictment of Donald Trump is yet another … desperate attempt to distract attention away from the mounting evidence of Joe Biden’s direct involvement in his family’s illegal influence peddling scheme – one of the greatest political corruption scandals in history,” Stefanik said.
Senate GOP leadership, on the other hand, was once again largely silent as the 2024 Republican frontrunner was hit with the latest of 78 charges across three investigations. More are likely on the way as prosecutors in Georgia wrap up their own probe into allegations of misconduct surrounding the 2020 election.
Republican Conference Chair John Barrasso of Wyoming was the exception, blasting the “two-tiered system of justice” and President Biden’s willingness to “weaponize the justice system against his political opponent.”
McConnell’s silence on lynchpin issues has become a defining component of his tenure in the upper chamber. While the GOP minority leader was instrumental in reshaping the federal judiciary with conservative appointments, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and President Biden had already matched the lifetime judicial confirmations McConnell and Trump secured in their first two years by October 2022, according to Politico. Democrats were granted two more years to reclaim the judiciary after Republicans under McConnell blew last fall’s opportunity to take over the upper chamber in what was supposed to be a “red wave” year. McConnell sabotaged the effort by redirecting funds from competitive races in key swing states to a contest between two Republicans in Alaska.
When Trump was first indicted, by Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg in March, McConnell refused to condemn the overt weaponization of law enforcement. Even Utah Sen. Mitt Romney, who is the only Republican senator to back Trump’s impeachment twice, blasted the Manhattan DA.
In his first remarks about the weaponized Justice Department after that first indictment, the Republican Senate leader called for rewarding partisan political prosecutions with more funding for federal law enforcement agencies.
When Trump was indicted for a second time in June over the alleged retention of classified documents, McConnell again was nowhere to be found.
“On Trump indictment, Senate GOP leaders silent while top House Republicans vow payback,” read a headline from CNN.
McConnell isn’t just failing to defend the Republican presidential frontrunner against partisan lawfare, he’s also failing to go on the offensive about the myriad scandals that plague the incumbent president. McConnell has been more vocal about a freshman Wisconsin lawmaker shouting at a group of teenagers than the revelations surrounding the Biden family business deals. Last week, McConnell declined to comment at all on House Republicans’ impeachment push over the apparent bribery scheme between Biden and Ukrainian oligarchs.