Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has long had a contentious and complicated relationship with former President Donald Trump, and when asked this week whether he would support the current GOP primary frontrunner if he is convicted on the federal charges he now faces, the lawmaker declined to definitively answer, as Breitbart reports.
The Kentucky Republican was presented with the question by Manu Raju of CNN on Tuesday, who asked, “Given that the former president is facing a federal indictment and these serious allegations, could you still support him if he becomes the nominee, even if he's convicted?”
Clearly unwilling to opine on the matter, McConnell evaded the crux of the query and said, “The Republican campaign for the nomination has already been going on for six months.”
“It's going to be going on for a year longer, and I'm just simply not going to comment on the candidates,” McConnell continued.
Dodging the situation as best he could, McConnell concluded, “We've got a bunch of [candidates], and I'm just simply going to stay out of it.”
As NBC News reports, however, not all of McConnell's fellow Republicans appear to share his reticence.
Rep. Byron Donalds (R-FL) said that while he will wait and observe what occurs as the case plays out, he is not prepared to declare a conviction a deal-breaker in terms of his support.
“It all depends on what actually happens. I'm not committed to [withdrawing an endorsement], because I've seen it in other instances where courts do something, and they are wrong,” Donalds stated.
Virginia Republican Rep. Bob Good, despite having already endorsed Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for the GOP nomination, indicated that if Trump is the nominee, a conviction would not dissuade him from lending his support.
Declaring Trump to have been “an outstanding president,” Good added that the federal case is nothing more than a “ridiculous, politically motivated attack...that is relentless and has been relentless for the last seven or eight years.”
Others within the party are not on board with supporting a convicted nominee, however, with Rep. Ken Buck (R-CO) saying Tuesday, “I certainly won't support a convicted felon for the White House.”
Trump, for his part, has made it clear that whether or not he is ultimately found guilty of crimes, he has no plans whatsoever to exit the 2024 presidential contest.
Speaking to Politico on Saturday, the former president stated unequivocally, “I'll never leave. Look, if I would have left, I would have left prior to the original race in 2016. That was a rough one. In theory that was not doable.”
What that out of the way, Trump was asked whether he would grant himself a pardon if he were convicted, either before or after returning to the Oval Office. Evincing the unshakeable confidence for which he is well known, the former president replied, “I don't think I'll ever have to. I didn't do anything wrong.”