The Republican Party of Kentucky’s State Central Committee rejected a resolution Saturday that would have urged Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell to fully support former President Donald Trump and condemn his second impeachment.
The committee met Saturday to consider the proposal after the Republican Party of Nelson County announced more than 30 GOP county chairs and vice chairs had called for a meeting to consider the resolution aimed at the commonwealth’s longtime senator.
Republican Party of Kentucky Chairman Mac Brown called the resolution out of order, and the majority of the committee agreed, a member told The Courier Journal after the meeting. The final vote agreeing the resolution should be deemed out of order was 134-49, the member said.
The party released a statement following the meeting, which it said had been called for by 28 members of the body.
“As a political party, we’re in a unique position to bring all sides of our organization together to have conversations about the direction we are going in and what we expect from our elected officials,” the statement said. The central committee “met in a special meeting called by a small group of individuals. In the end it is our intention to return our focus to bringing civility to the party and continue having larger conversations about how we can attract more voters and grow our party.”
Republican Party of Nelson County Chair Don Thrasher, who led the resolution effort, said the chairs who supported it will now bring a motion asking for McConnell’s resignation, which he said is in the purview of the rules.
The committee has over 350 members, including the chairs and vice chairs of county-level Republican parties as well as elected officials who are part of the GOP (including McConnell himself), according to an RPK employee.
McConnell — who is widely credited with helping transform the commonwealth into a Republican stronghold over the past 30 years — still has stalwart supporters among the state GOP who trust his judgment, as the committee’s decision Saturday made clear.
Trump has been accused of inciting an insurrection at the U.S. Capitol on Jan. 6 that led to the deaths of a police officer and four other people.
It also forced McConnell and other members of Congress to evacuate and temporarily halt their certification of President Joe Biden’s electoral win — a victory Trump repeatedly and falsely claimed was illegitimate and should not be accepted, including in a speech he gave to supporters in Washington not long before the riot began.
McConnell was one of Trump’s chief defenders during the former president’s first impeachment and the ensuing trial, but this time he has taken a different approach. That upset some Kentucky Republicans, prompting Saturday’s meeting.
McConnell, who won reelection in a landslide in November, told his fellow conservative senators last week he hasn’t decided how he’ll vote and plans to “listen to the legal arguments when they are presented to the Senate.”
Then, on Tuesday, he publicly said Trump “provoked” the Jan. 6 mob.
“The mob was fed lies. They were provoked by the president and other powerful people, and they tried to use fear and violence to stop a specific proceeding of the first branch of the federal government,” he said in a Senate speech.
The Nelson County GOP’s executive committee formally censured McConnell on Tuesday night for that and demanded he retract his statements “impugning” the former president’s honor.
On Friday, McConnell struck a deal with Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer to wait until the week of Feb. 8 to start the impeachment trial — a move that gives Trump’s defense team extra time to prepare.
“Senate Republicans strongly believe we need a full and fair process where the former president can mount a defense and the Senate can properly consider the factual, legal and constitutional questions at stake,” McConnell said Friday, hours before his compromise with Schumer was announced.
Courier Journal reporter Emma Austin contributed to this article. Reach reporter Morgan Watkins: 502-582-4502; firstname.lastname@example.org; Twitter: @morganwatkins26.