President Trump aimed a fresh barrage of criticism at Senate Majority Leader #Mitch McConnell Thursday, escalating an extraordinary fight with a key Republican leader that could undermine the party’s ability to regroup and pass shared legislative priorities this fall.
In a series of demeaning tweets and public statements, Trump blamed the Kentucky Republican, who remains popular among GOP senators, for the party’s failure to muscle through an overhaul of the #Affordable Care Act. The president also urged McConnell to “get back to work” on that and other campaign promises, including cutting taxes and spurring new infrasturcture spending.
Speaking to reporters Thursday afternoon, Trump declined to say whether McConnell should resign but said they should ask him again if the Senate leader fails to deliver on the president’s leading priorities.
Declaring that he was “very disappointed in Mitch,” Trump said he was particularly miffed by a Senate vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act that failed by a single vote.
Trump associates said the attacks, which began Wednesday night and resumed Thursday, were intended to shore up Trump’s outside-the-Beltway populist credentials and would resonate with core supporters frustrated by a lack of progress in Washington.
But the tweets were quickly met with public and private defenses of McConnell — and rebukes of Trump. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah), tweeted: “@SenateMajLdr has been the best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him.” And former House speaker Newt Gingrich, a Trump adviser, said on Fox News that the president bears some responsibility for the Republican failure on Obamacare.