Many Republicans are utterly bewildered by it. Why is the president going after the Republican leader of the Senate, opening the question of whether Mitch McConnell should resign? Why is the Republican president trying to take down Republican senators, recently calling Senator Jeff Flake, “Flake Jeff Flake, and saying that Senator Lindsey Graham is a “publicity seeking” liar?
This kind of battle is potentially crippling for the Republican agenda. It has some in the Republican majority on Capitol Hill privately raising the prospect of a formal censure of President Trump for his comments made after Charlottesville. There is also talk of impeachment or a concerted effort to create enough pressure that the president would resign. The arsenal against Trump includes allegations of collusion with Russia during his campaign or the suggestion he could have obstructed justice by the firing of FBI director James Comey.
GOP Sen. Bob Corker (Tenn.) was previously supportive of President Trump, but now says that he has failed to demonstrate “stability” or “competence.”
Very few Republican senators will go on television to defend the president. McConnell has shown incredible restraint in simply walking away from an open fight with Trump, but that patience may eventually wear thin. It does not seem possible that McConnell will look the other way in special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation. GOP leadership can not allow the possibility that the president will damage the Republican brand prior to the 2018 elections. In the short-term, the GOP has to worry about the upcoming mud-slinging that could take place in September’s battle over the budget, the debt ceiling and an infrastructure spending bill.
Trump’s ire against McConnell was raised when the Kentucky senator said, “Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before. And I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.”
The president could not help himself firing back, “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so,” Trump tweeted. “After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”
Trump wasn’t finished: “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!” the president said in another tweet.
Trump must be putting his money on his ability to get voters to turn against McConnell as part of the “establishment” Trump was sent to D.C. to get rid of. Sean Hannity of Fox News aligned with Trump tweeting, “YOU are a WEAK, SPINELESS leader who does not keep his word and you need to Retire!”
A PPP poll in July revealed that voters only give McConnell an 18 percent job approval rating and a 58 percent disapproval rating. Congress, in general, received a 75 percent disapproval poll number. Trump’s disapproval rating is at 55 percent, so slinging mud at McConnell may be making him look good by comparison.
McConnell’s caucus is holding firm with the Kentucky senator. “Passing POTUS’s legislative agenda requires a team effort,” Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the number two Republican in the Senate, tweeted in McConnell’s defense. “No one is more qualified than Mitch McConnell to lead Senate in that effort.”
Some think that Trump needs to remember that it was McConnell who kept the Supreme Court chair open by refusing to hold hearings or a vote on Obama nominee Merrick Garland. And it was McConnell who used the “nuclear option” to give Trump his first real win of his presidency in the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court.
Republicans are now far from Ronald Reagan’s 11th commandment: Thou shalt not speak ill of a fellow Republican. Where do you think this battle Royale between Trump and McConnell is headed?
Credit: The Hill