Watch the full Mitch McConnell interview by Jonathan Swan
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell said during an Axios NewsShapers interview with Jonathan Swan on Thursday that he has "an obligation" to support former President Trump if he's the Republican nominee in 2024.
The big picture: Through half an hour of persistent questioning, McConnell again and again showed his absolute loyalty to the party.
- "I don't get to pick the Republican nominee," McConnell said.
- Asked where he draws his moral red lines, McConnell said: "I'm very comfortable with my moral red line."
Between the lines: This was the first time McConnell was pressed on the contradiction between his Senate floor comments in February of 2021 saying Trump was "morally responsible" for January 6th — followed two weeks later by saying he'd "absolutely" support Trump if he were the party's 2024 nominee.
McConnell also stood by Justice Clarence Thomas' decision not to recuse himself despite the drive by his wife, Ginni Thomas, to overturn the 2020 election, Axios' Andrew Solender writes in a recap of the interview.
- McConnell would not commit to Supreme Court hearings for Biden nominees if the GOP takes the majority in November. "I choose not to answer the question," he said.
During the interview with Swan, McConnell made it clear his approach to supporting Republican Senate candidates is centered on electability.
- Herschel Walker: McConnell stood his endorsement of the former football star — and likely GOP Senate nominee from Georgia — who has faced allegations of threatening his wife with a gun. McConnell said Walker has "admitted he has some troubles in his life," but lately has "been an exemplary citizen."
- Eric Greitens: McConnell declined to condemn or comment the Missouri Senate candidate (and former governor), whose ex-wife accuses him of abuse. McConnell said the state's voters would take all that into account.
Asked about the GOP agenda if the party wins Senate control in the midterms, McConnell said he'd focus on inflation, the border and crime.
- In the most specific comment he's made about 2023 plans, McConnell said the party would "do everything" to press President Biden to ramp up domestic energy production.
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