President Trump may have just drawn another “red line.” This one is not with North Korea or Syria; it is with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Trump said that McConnell might have to think about stepping down if he doesn’t deliver on the president’s agenda of health care, taxes, and infrastructure.
The President’s words came as he mentioned McConnell’s failure to get a repeal and replace deal done on Obamacare “a disgrace.” The president was then asked if the majority leader should consider stepping aside or retiring, a decision some conservative GOP members are hoping for, and Trump gave this pointed response:
“Well I tell you what, if he doesn’t get repeal and replace done and if he doesn’t get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question,” the president told reporters in Bedminster, New Jersey.
Trump later described that he is “very disappointed in Mitch,” but he also said that he would be the first to praise him if he can get legislation moving. These kind of comments between a sitting president and a majority leader within his party are almost unprecedented. There was no immediate comment from McConnell’s office.
These recent comments from Trump about McConnell come from a stream of past comments. On Thursday morning Trump tweeted that after “screaming” about repealing and replacing “Obamacare” for seven years, McConnell “couldn’t get it done.” Later that day, Trump became a cheerleader as he charged McConnell to “get back to work” and pass bills. “You can do it!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s voice has echoed with other voices in the media criticizing McConnell like Breitbart News, Fox News’ Sean Hannity and radio host Rush Limbaugh. These voices represent a significant portion of Republican voters and some major donors who are bent on punishing a Congress they believe does not do their job and is hindering the president’s agenda.
McConnell is “a coward who leads from behind,” ”spineless,” and a lifelong “political animal” of the sort Trump wants to eject from Washington, said Doug Deason, a major donor from Texas. Deason has already decided not to support any Republican that is vying for reelection if they do not focus on Trump’s priorities.
Other Republican’s do not approve of the bickering between GOP leadership. Newt Gingrich, the former Speaker of the House, said, “You saw Mitch McConnell say something, you saw Trump say something when it’s obviously better for them to learn not to do that,” Gingrich said. “They have to work together. Governing is a team sport.”
McConnell apparently touched a nerve this past week by stating that Trump had “not been in this line of work before” and had “excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process.” Apparently, a “tense” phone call between the two men followed those words.
Ironically, Trump’s openness to the idea of asking McConnell to step aside may just show his political naiveté regarding the ways of Washington. A Senate Majority Leader is elected by members of his conference and McConnell has more than enough support from within. Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah said on Twitter that McConnell “has been the best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him.”
Did Trump draw a red line that he can’t fulfill?
Credit: ABC News