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It took less than two weeks for Mitch McConnell to go from condemning Donald Trump’s role in the Capitol insurrection as a “disgraceful dereliction of duty” to voicing his unequivocal support for the twice-impeached former president should he win the Republican nomination in 2024.

“The nominee of the party?” the Senate minority leader told Fox News on Thursday when asked if he’d back Trump. “Absolutely.” 

McConnell’s full-throated commitment to a man he claimed to find “practically and morally responsible” for the deadly January 6 insurrection is further evidence of Trump’s hold among Republicans, despite rumblings of dissensions within the party. But the timing of McConnell’s latest comments is notable, as more and more Republicans surrender to the notion that Trump’s grasp will endure till the next presidential election. “I don’t know if he’ll run in 2024 or not, but if he does, I’m pretty sure he will win the nomination,” Sen. Mitt Romney said earlier this week. But the Utah senator and one of Trump’s most vocal Republican foes said he would not be supporting him. “I would not be voting for President Trump again,” he told the New York Times’ Andrew Ross Sorkin. “I haven’t voted for him in the past. And I would probably be getting behind somebody who I thought more represented the tiny wing of the Republican Party that I represent.”

Throw in polls showing that Trump remains vastly popular among Republican voters, and you see why McConnell doesn’t want to put too much daylight between himself and Trump. 

Sure, it’s not the most shocking turn of events. Knowing McConnell’s record, you could even call it inevitable. But it sure is astonishing that the GOP is clinging to a man who just lost everything for Republicans: the White House—by 7 million votes—the Senate, and any vanishing illusion that the party stands for something other than Trumpism. Capitol insurrection? What Capitol insurrection?

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