Updated Mar 6, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Mitch McConnell endorses Trump for president

Mitch McConnell stands at a microphone wearing a dark suit, blue shirt and red tie. A few people are in the background.

McConnell during a news conference at the U.S. Capitol in D.C. in February 2024. Photo: Valerie Plesch/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday endorsed former President Trump in the 2024 presidential election.

Why it matters: McConnell recently announced he'd step down as Senate GOP leader in November after years of a contentious relationship with the former president.

  • The endorsement, first reported by the Washington Post, came shortly after former UN Ambassador Nikki Haley dropped out of the presidential race.
  • "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 a statement provided to Axios.

Between the lines: Every powerful GOP leader has come around in favor of Trump, cementing the MAGA grip on the Republican Party.

  • McConnell and Trump have had an icy relationship since the Kentucky Republican accused Trump of provoking the mob behind the Jan. 6 insurrection.
  • Even so, he ultimately voted to acquit the former president during his second Senate impeachment trial. He then condemned him as "practically and morally responsible" for inciting violence.

Previously, the two men maintained a mostly positive relationship during Trump's single term in office.

  • Together they contributed to the reshaping of the federal judiciary and cemented the 6-3 conservative majority on the Supreme Court — both of which McConnell mentioned in his statement.
  • "During his Presidency, we worked together to accomplish great things for the American people," McConnell said.

What's next: Despite stepping down as party leader, McConnell said he will serve the remainder of his term, which runs until 2027.

  • He said he looks forward to the opportunity of focusing on a "sustained offensive" with a Trump presidency and "the opportunity of switching from playing defense against the terrible policies the Biden administration has pursued."

Friction point: Trump has repeatedly insulted McConnell's wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, with racist remarks.

  • Chao served as a cabinet member to the former president and was the first to resign in the immediate Jan. 6 fallout with less than two weeks left in Trump's term.
  • "It has deeply troubled me in a way that I simply cannot set aside," she wrote at the time.

Go deeper: McConnell's exit haunted by poisonous relationship with Trump

Editor's note: This story has been updated with additional developments.

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