More recently, McConnell and Trump dodged disaster in West Virginia by joining forces to prevent Don Blankenship from winning the Republican nomination for Senate. The former coal baron spent a year in prison and may have risked an otherwise plum pickup opportunity in a year that Republicans are defending a narrow 51-to-49 majority.

They hatched a plan two days before the May 8 primary when Trump called McConnell with a simple question: What can I do to help?

McConnell advised the president that he didn’t need to endorse either of Blankenship’s two leading mainstream Republican opponents. Both could defeat Democratic Sen. Joe Manchin III, McConnell reasoned.

“And so he said, ‘Well what if I just make the case that Blankenship would lose in November?’ ” McConnell recalled. “And I said, that’d be great.”