Former President Trump dismissed his Vice President Mike Pence for lacking ‘courage’ and called Mitch McConnell, Republican leader in the Senate, a ‘knucklehead’ as he picked over the last days of his presidency in an interview for a new book.
He also claimed the Jan. 6 rioters were a ‘loving crowd’ as he held court for two-and-half-hours at his Mar-a-Lago estate with the authors of ‘I Alone Can Fix It,’ which will be published on Tuesday.
It comes amid a slew of fresh accounts of the last days of Trump’s time in office.
He said McConnell had ‘no personality’ and lacked a killer political instinct for failing to eliminate the filibuster, which would have allowed them to force through a Republican agenda.
‘He’s a stupid person,’ he said, according to an excerpt published in Vanity Fair. ‘I don’t think he’s smart enough.’
Ten portraits of Donald Trump arrived at Trump Tower in New York City with the words ‘I am who I am’ on them. Secret Service helped wheel the prints on a trolley into the entrance
A string of recent books has lifted the lid on President Trump’s last days in office, describing his fury at officials who did not support his attempt to overturn the 2020 election result
Former President Trump held court at his Mar-a-Lago estate for two-and-a-half hours in March, offering his thoughts on the 2020 election, his potential running mates in 2024 and the performance of key allies
Trump dismissed Sen. Mitch McConnell as a ‘knucklehead’ for failing to eliminate the filibuster, which would have allowed him to push through a Republican agenda
He faulted McConnell for not persuading Sen. Joe Manchin, the moderate Democrat from West Virginia, to switch parties.
‘I tried to convince Mitch McConnell to get rid of the filibuster, to terminate it, so that we would get everything, and he was a knucklehead and he didn’t do it, he added.
Trump also made familiar claims about the individuals he believed failed him in fighting harder to overturn the election result.
The book is published by Penguin Press on July 20, the latest in a string of accounts about the last days of the Trump presidency
In his eyes, Pence lacked the bravery to do the right thing.
‘Had Mike Pence had the courage to send it back to the legislatures, you would have had a different outcome, in my opinion,’ he told authors Carol Leonnig and Philip Rucker.
His vice president was obliged to stand up if he saw evidence of fraud, he said.
‘I think that the vice president of the United States must protect the Constitution of the United States,’ he added.
‘I don’t believe he’s just supposed to be a statue who gets these votes from the states and immediately hands them over. If you see fraud, then I believe you have an obligation to do one of a number of things.’
He also reprised an argument used by his supporters that Vice President Thomas Jefferson overrode concerns that House and Senate tellers raised about Georgia’s electoral college votes in 1800 – which historian say was a minor discrepancy that does not compare with the 2020 election.
‘So I said, “Mike, you can be Thomas Jefferson or you can be Mike Pence,”‘ said Trump.
‘What happened is, I had a very good relationship with Mike Pence—very good—but when you are handed these votes and before you even start about the individual corruptions, the people, the this, the that, all the different things that took place, when you are handed these votes…
Aides say Trump and Pence speak frequently since leaving office but admit they will never ‘see eye to eye’ on the events of Jan. 6 when the vice president resisted the president’s pressure not to certify the results of the 2020 election
In the interview, Trump said he hoped his supporters would march to the Capitol to protest outside and blamed U.S. Capitol Police for ushering them inside. ‘They were hugging and kissing,’ he said. ‘You don’t see that. There’s plenty of tape on that’
‘Right there you should have sent them back to the legislatures.’
Aides to both men say they have talked frequently by telephone since leaving office but admit they will never agree on how the events of Jan. 6 unfolded.
The interview was conducted at Trump’s Florida residence in March, as diners began arriving for dinner.
He was occasionally interrupted by members of Trump World, such as his eldest son’s girlfriend Kimberly Guilfoyle or Fox News presenter Laura Ingraham, stopping by to say hello.
And, as he has done in more recent appearances, he played down the violence on Jan. 6 when asked what he hoped his supporters would do when he urged them to march on the Capitol.
‘I would venture to say I think it was the largest crowd I had ever spoken [to] before,’ he said.
‘It was a loving crowd, too, by the way. There was a lot of love.
‘I’ve heard that from everybody. Many, many people have told me that was a loving crowd.
‘It was too bad, it was too bad that they did that.’
Under pressure to answer the question, Trump said he wanted his supporters to demonstrate outside the Capitol building but not enter.
‘In all fairness, the Capitol Police were ushering people in,’ he said.
‘The Capitol Police were very friendly. They were hugging and kissing.
‘You don’t see that. There’s plenty of tape on that.’
He also made no secret of his interest in running again in 2024, running through a list of possible VP picks.
He again expressed his disappointment in Pence and all but dismissed the former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
‘Chris has been very disloyal, but that’s okay,’ he said. ‘I helped Chris Christie a lot. He knows that more than anybody, but I helped him a lot. But he’s been disloyal.’
He reserved special ire for his former ambassador to the United Nations, who had recently criticized his attempts to overturn the election in interviews with Politico.
‘Nikki Haley wants to come here so badly,’ he said. ‘She did a little nasty couple of statements…
‘She has been killed by the party. When they speak badly about me, the party is not happy about it.
‘It’s pretty amazing. There’s not been anything like this.’