Mitch McConnell was not shocked by Joe Biden’s election victory over Donald Trump, per a new book.
“There were so many Maalox moments during the four years,” McConnell reportedly told his staff.
McConnell treaded carefully in communicating with Biden while Trump disputed the election results.
After Joe Biden was declared the US President-elect by most major news outlets last November, many Republicans were in disbelief that the former vice president had beaten then-President Donald Trump.
But then-Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, who had served in the upper chamber alongside Biden for decades, was “the least surprised,” according to a new book by Washington Post journalists Bob Woodward and Robert Costa, an early copy of which was obtained by Insider.
McConnell, who had been a governing partner with Trump, shepherding through three Supreme Court justices and scores of appeals judges, along with passing the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act and other conservative priorities, nonetheless had to contend with the wildly unpredictable president, who could tank a piece of legislation as easily as he could sell it to conservatives.
The senator, who at the time was closely watching the Georgia Senate runoff contests that would determine whether Republicans controlled the upper chamber or ceded control to the Democrats, chose to give Trump some space as the election results were still sinking in, which Woodward and Costa wrote in “Peril.”
Despite being in the same political party, McConnell told his staff that the president’s actions could often lead to stressful predicaments, according to the book.
“There were so many Maalox moments during the four years,” he reportedly told his staff, referring to the antacid commonly used to treat stress-induced heartburn.
During this time, McConnell continued to tread slightly with Trump – working behind to scenes to keep Biden from calling him for fear of upsetting the president, whom the then-majority leader still wanted to keep in his fold.
“McConnell worried Trump might react negatively and upend the upcoming, hotly contested runoff Senate elections in Georgia,” the book said. “He also said he did not want Biden, a serial telephone user, to call him. Any call from Biden was sure to infuriate Trump and set off unwanted calls from him, asking if he believed Biden had won the presidency.”
To keep things under wraps, McConnell reached out to GOP Sen. John Cornyn of Texas to speak privately with Sen. Chris Coons of Delaware, a Biden confidant, about a “back channel” for the then-majority leader to have a level of communication with the president-elect.
Cornyn said that the senators were “in a delicate situation” since Trump may have assumed that the men were “cutting a deal behind his back to cut him out,” which would make him “even more irrational.”
Around that time, McConnell publicly defended Trump’s right to contest the election results, with the president’s campaign targeting ballots in swing states that he narrowly lost – including Arizona, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.
“Obviously, no states have yet certified their election results,” McConnell said at the time. “We have at least one or two states that are already on track for a recount and I believe the president may have legal challenges underway in at least five states.”
He added: “President Trump is 100% within his rights to look into allegations of irregularities and weigh his legal options.”
The president and his legal team eventually filed over 40 unsuccessful election-related lawsuits in courts across the country.
After Trump’s second Senate impeachment trial for “incitement of insurrection” for his role in the Jan. 6 Capitol riot, McConnell declined to find the president guilty, but rebuked him on the Senate floor. Later, McConnell said he would support Trump in 2024 if he were the GOP nominee.
But there’s no love lost between the two men. Trump continues to insult McConnell on a regular basis. And the now-minority leader has his focus on regaining control of the Senate in 2022.
Read the original article on Business Insider