I wouldn't be in the slightest bit surprised if Trump has demanded that McConnell retire. McConnell was just reelected and has a full 6 years before he has to face the voters again. But... there's a lot that Trump could do to make his life a living hell between now and then. There could be something-- maybe just the threat of hot air, but maybe something-- that Trump might have to say about McConnell's wife's corruption scandal and how it impacts McConnell himself and his posture towards China. Or maybe Trump is just threatening to upend the 2022 Senate races, although, that's something he's already doing.
Trump is considerably more popular in Kentucky than McConnell. In November, Trump won 1,326,646 votes (62.1%) while McConnell, running against a weak, even pathetic opponent, only received 1,233,314 votes (57.8%). And that was while Trump was supportive of him!
Last week, Nick Storm, writing for The Intercept, reported that McConnell, who just turned 79 a few weeks ago, is at least contemplating early retirement. He's compiled a short list of Kentucky successors and moved to make sure Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear (D) won't be able to name his replacement. McConnell's list includes by his protégé, state Attorney General Daniel Cameron, former United Nations Ambassador Kelly Craft, whose billionaire coal magnate husband is a major McConnell donor and Kentucky Secretary of State Michael Adams. Under current law, wrote Storm, the power to appoint McConnell’s replacement falls to Beshear. "But new legislation McConnell is pushing in the Kentucky General Assembly would strip the governor of that power and put it into the hands of the state GOP."
The new legislation, Senate Bill 228-- dubbed by some inside the state Legislature as the Daniel Cameron Election Bill-- was filed on February 10, 2021, during the Kentucky General Assembly’s 30-day “short” session. The bill alters current state statute that allows the governor to appoint a replacement in the event of a vacancy to the U.S. Senate. If the bill becomes law, the appointment to fill a vacancy will be selected from a list of three names submitted by the state executive committee of the same political party as the senator who held the vacant seat. According to the bill, the appointee from that list will then serve until a successor has been elected by voters. The legislation goes on to list instructions on when elections take place in the event of a vacancy.
...Republicans in the Kentucky Legislature, who asked not to be identified over fear of reprisal from their party, see this move as less about McConnell’s health and more about hand-selecting his replacement and giving that successor the benefit of incumbency. One frustrated Republican elected official, who declined to be named for the same reason, referred to the bill as McConnell’s “escape hatch.”
Coincidentally, I guess, Trump is in a war with the 3 GOP main fundraising committees, the RNC, the NRSC (controlled by McConnell) and the NRCC) over the use of Trump's name and image in fundraising appeals. Trump made the demands with a cease and desist letter to the 3 committees last week. Yesterday Politico's Alex Isenstadt reported that the RNC told Trump to go pound sand, claiming "every right to refer to public figures as it engages in core, First Amendment-protected political speech, and it will continue to do so in pursuit of these common goals."
The dust-up represents a rare break between the Trump team and the RNC, which during the 2020 campaign worked together through a joint fundraising vehicle to raise over $366 million. The two sides merged their political and digital operations together into a single operation in the run-up to last year's election, and their fundraising activities were closely aligned.
But as he plots out his plans to exact revenge on his perceived Republican enemies in the 2022 midterm elections, the former president has begun to assert greater control over how his name is used to generate fundraising dollars. Just days before the cease-and-desist letters were sent, Trump delivered a speech before the Conservative Political Action Conference in which he said that the “only… way” to financially support Trump-aligned Republicans was through Save America, his leadership political action committee.
Top Republicans, however, have scoffed at the cease-and-desist request, asserting that they are allowed to use Trump’s name in fundraising appeals given that he is a public figure. The RNC has continued to invoke Trump in several fundraising appeals since it received the cease-and-desist request. It sent a pair of Trump-themed fundraising emails over the weekend, and on Monday it emailed donors asking them to help “defend President Trump’s legacy.”
Trump's statement last night, urging the Republican donor base to give their money to him, not the RNC or other GOP committees: