McConnell’s gift for managing the high-strung Trump has become a source of amusement and wonder around Washington—particularly in contrast with Speaker Paul Ryan’s perilous tango with the president. Even when Trump and Ryan are playing nicely, everyone knows the situation is fraught and could turn ugly at any moment. When the House vote on the American Health Care Act imploded in March, Trump was said to be privately fuming at Ryan. Not so privately, the president coyly urged his Twitter followers to tune in to a Fox News show one night when the host began her broadcast by calling on Ryan to resign. (White House chief of staff Reince Priebus insisted the timing was “coincidental.”)…
Most obviously, McConnell kept his personal views on Trump to himself during last year’s race.
“McConnell is a political genius, and he read Trump right from the get-go,” one Republican House staffer told me. “He never wades into the political back and forth or comments on the Trump controversies. You’ll recall he completely stayed out of the Access Hollywood ordeal, when Ryan led a conference call denouncing it. McConnell’s managed to stay above the fray in the Trump era by simply navigating the political landmines more wisely and remaining silent in times of controversy.”
Such restraint is seen as very much in keeping with McConnell’s personality. “He keeps everybody at distance,” said the House member. “Nobody sees his cards but him.”