McConnell shakes Trump’s hand at ‘positive’ meeting

Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell (Ky.) on Thursday spoke and shook hands with former President Trump during a meeting at the National Republican Senatorial Committee, the first time the two leaders have spoken since their falling out in 2020.

“We had a really positive meeting. He and I got a chance to talk a little bit, shook hands a few times,” McConnell told reporters after the meeting.

“It was an entirely positive meeting,” he added. “I can’t think of anything out of it to tell you that was negative.”

McConnell and other senators said Trump received several standing ovations.

Senators said McConnell sat close to Trump at the meeting, giving him ample opportunity to chat with the likely Republican nominee for president.

Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), who attended the meeting, said Trump spoke “favorably” about McConnell and praised the Senate GOP leader’s efforts to keep the Republican conference as unified as possible.

“It was very cordial, very unifying,” Wicker told The Hill. “We talked about a number of issues and there was a real good feeling.”

Wicker said McConnell was sitting “right next” to Trump.

“The president spoke favorably about Mitch, about all the work he did to try to hold the conference together though a couple people would stray every now and then,” he said. “He was very complimentary.”

Another Republican senator who attended the meeting and requested anonymity said Trump went out of his way to praise McConnell or mention his name several times during the lunch.

“The senator said Trump was “making a point to project a positive attitude toward Mitch” and “never” made “reference to any disagreement.”

Relations between Trump and McConnell have been strained since McConnell recognized Joe Biden as the president-elect after the vote of the Electoral College in mid-December 2020.

McConnell opposed Trump’s effort to block the certification of Biden’s victory in Congress on Jan. 6, 2021, the same day a mob of Trump supporters stormed the U.S. Capitol in a failed attempt to stop the proceeding.

The Senate GOP leader excoriated Trump’s actions in the leadup to the attack on the Capitol when he denounced him on the Senate floor in February of 2021 as “practically and morally responsible for provoking the events of that day.”

Trump has regularly taken shots at McConnell in recent years, mocking him as “old crow” and disparaging his wife, former Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, as “Coco Chow” and his “China-loving wife.”

McConnell nevertheless endorsed Trump for president in March after he clinched the GOP nomination for president after Super Tuesday.

He reminded reporters on Tuesday that he had said weeks after the 2021 attack on the Capitol that he would support the party’s nominee for president, even if it turned out to be Trump.

“I said three years ago, right after the Capitol was attacked, that I would support our nominee regardless of who it was — including him,” McConnell said earlier this week. “I’ve said earlier this year, I support him — he’s earned the nomination by the voters all across the country.

Al Weaver contributed.

This story was updated at 3:40 p.m.

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