Kentucky GOP group rejects push to have McConnell back Trump

FRANKFORT, Ky. (AP) — A Kentucky Republican Party committee on Saturday rejected a resolution urging Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell to fully support Donald Trump in the ex-president's upcoming impeachment trial.

The GOP State Central Committee met to consider the proposal after a grassroots group of Republican officials pushed the resolution, news outlets reported.

The meeting was called by a small group of officials, the party said in a statement following the gathering. The party said it's in a 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.”

"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,” the statement said.

Opening arguments in Trump's Senate impeachment trial over the Capitol riot will begin the week of Feb. 8. It will be the first such impeachment trial of a U.S. president no longer in office. If Trump is convicted, the Senate could vote to bar him from holding office ever again.

McConnell, who said recently that Trump “provoked” his supporters before the riot, has not said how he will vote. McConnell also said that 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.”

McConnell won reelection last year and is considered the main architect of the GOP's rise to dominance in Kentucky. McConnell was one of Trump’s chief defenders during the ex-president’s first impeachment and the ensuing Senate trial.

But the senator's recent comments spurred the grassroots group to force the special meeting Saturday on the resolution urging McConnell to support Trump in the upcoming impeachment trial.

The GOP committee has more than 350 members, including the chairs and vice chairs of county-level Republican parties as well as elected officials who are part of the GOP, according to a state party employee.

Nelson County GOP Chairman Don Thrasher, who pushed for the meeting, said Saturday he could not comment on it. He did say, however, that he felt like many of the Republican elected officials in the state are out of touch with the party's base, the Lexington Herald-Leader reported.