House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has publicly and privately worked to stay in former President Donald Trump's good graces, but Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) hasn't spoken with Trump since he publicly accepted President Biden's victory in the weeks before the Jan. 6, 2021, Capitol attack .
McConnell on Tuesday sided with Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) for publicly stating that Biden won and Trump lost in 2020, earning Trump's ire. "I think Sen. Rounds told the truth about what happened in the 2020 election," he told CNN. "And I agree with him." Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) warned McConnell on Sean Hannity's Fox News show Wednesday night that he'd better mend his relationship with Trump or his job as Senate leader is in jeopardy.
"If you want to be a Republican leader in the House or the Senate, you have to have a working relationship with Donald Trump," Graham said. "I like Sen. McConnell," but Trump is "the leader of the Republican Party," and "I'm not gonna vote for anybody for leader of the Senate as a Republican unless they can prove to me that they can advocate an American first agenda and have a working relationship with President Trump. Because if you don't do that, you will fail."
Graham's warning "is noteworthy for several reasons," starting with that Graham knows McConnell "has shown no indication that he wants to make peace with the former president," Rachael Bade and Ryan Lizza write in Thursday morning's Politico's Playbook. Also, "Graham and McConnell are often allies in the Senate," and "most GOP senators and Senate candidates have sided with McConnell when asked about Trump's push to oust McConnell." The thing to watch, they add, is whether Graham's comments "trigger some Republicans to change their calculation and abandon McConnell."