Donald Trump has attacked Republican leaders in Washington, accusing them of lacking the spine to fight Joe Biden’s spending plans.
ddressing a campaign-style rally in Iowa, he criticised Mitch McConnell, the top Senate Republican for agreeing to lift the debt ceiling.
“Congressional Republicans must stay strong. This isn’t the time for Republicans to fold, to walk away, quit, be afraid,” the former president said.
There has been no love lost between the two, since Mr McConnell dismissed Mr Trump’s claim that the election had been stolen.
Mr Trump and his supporters have been infuriated by Republicans on Capitol Hill willing to negotiate with the Biden administration, especially on infrastructure.
His attack heralds what is likely to be a bruising battle within the Republican party in the run-up to the mid-term elections.
Mr Trump’s side has drawn up a hitlist of critics of the former president, who they will challenge in the congressional primaries – with Republican Liz Cheney a prime target.
Such is Mr Trump’s grip on the party that senior figures, including Republican whip Steve Scalise, are reluctant to contradict his complaint that the election was rigged. But privately, according to reports in Washington, most Republican senators are hoping Mr Trump will not run again in 2024.
Several, speaking anonymously, told The Hill they feared his candidacy would alienate independent and swing voters.
“I think we’re better off when he’s not part of any story,” one said. “He’s a clinical narcissist. He threw away the election in the debate with Biden and he threw away the Senate out of spite.”
Another senator, who faces re-election next year, says Mr Trump’s re-emergence as a candidate would be a gift to the Democrats.
Mr Trump fed speculation that he would run by holding a rally in Iowa, whose position in the election calendar gives it a pivotal role in the nomination fight. He stopped short of announcing his candidacy, even though his polling has improved since he left office.
Stephanie Grisham, who served as Mr Trump’s press secretary, said yesterday she was convinced he would run again.
Telegraph Media Group Limited