Story highlights

Mitch McConnell also is taking a cautious approach to the President

The Senate majority leader will need to work with Trump soon to avoid a fiscal crisis

CNN  — 

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who has publicly avoided criticizing President Donald Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville, is privately upset with the President’s handling of the episode, according to a source close to the Kentucky Republican.

Despite the immediate uproar that Trump caused by his stunning comments Tuesday where he defended some of the protestors during a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, McConnell remained silent and out of public view.

But McConnell, who has a long history of working on civil rights issues, is deeply concerned that Trump is reopening long-festering racial tensions, something that could fan the flames ahead of demonstrations expected in Lexington, Kentucky, the source told CNN.

The morning after Trump’s comments, McConnell released a statement Wednesday ahead of a rally in Lexington similar to the one that turned violent in Charlottesville over the weekend.

“The white supremacist, KKK, and neo-nazi groups who brought hatred and violence to Charlottesville are now planning a rally in Lexington. Their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America,” McConnell said in his statement.

While McConnell did not call out Trump by name, he seemed to be alluding to Trump’s statement that were some “very fine” people who attended the white supremacist rally.

“We can have no tolerance for an ideology of racial hatred,” McConnell said. “There are no good neo-nazis, and those who espouse their views are not supporters of American ideals and freedoms. We all have a responsibility to stand against hate and violence, wherever it raises its evil head.”

The cautious approach comes after Trump lashed the GOP leader repeatedly last week for failing to deliver on health care. McConnell, the source said, did not want to immediately attack Trump for fear that it would look like retribution for their fight last week.

Moreover, McConnell will need to work with the President next month to avoid a fiscal crisis that would occur if Congress can’t reach a deal to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling.

What makes matters awkward for McConnell: His wife, Elaine Chao, serves as Transportation secretary and was standing next to Trump during his Tuesday press conference where he placed blame equally on both white supremacists and the “alt-left” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville over the weekend.

McConnell, who has not had any public events since last week when he criticized the President for having “excessive expectations,” is expected to keep a low profile this week as he continues to fundraise to maintain the GOP Senate majority.