An article published Tuesday afternoon by the New York Times reveals the deteriorating relationship between President Donald Trump and the Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. The Times reports that Trump and McConnell have not spoken for weeks.
Their relationship is complicated by the fact that McConnell’s wife serves as Trump’s Transportation Secretary, but that has not stopped Trump from lashing out at McConnell in tweets during his recent “vacation” at his private golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey. Just one example:
Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 10, 2017
The Times went on to state “In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, the berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.”
There is no question that McConnell is disturbed by Trump’s attacks on vulnerable Republican Senators up for re-election, who include Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona. Trump has been particularly vitriolic against Flake, who did not endorse him in the primaries, and has singled him out for public criticism.
Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He's toxic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 17, 2017
McConnell, whose job is to protect the Republican majority in the Senate, is obviously frustrated that the current President would openly attack one of his own. In retaliation, a Republican super PAC aligned with McConnell will be airing a campaign ad lambasting Dr. Kelli Ward during the time of Trump’s rally tonight in Phoenix.
According to the Times’ article, Trump’s series of political missteps over the summer, finalizing with his remarks over the riots in Charlottesville have led McConnell to privately express his uncertainty “….that Trump will be able to salvage his administration…” That is a devastating remark from one of the two major leaders of the GOP in Congress.
Trump’s penchant for attacking anyone who disagrees with him has also caused other members of the Senate to close ranks against him, in particular his public criticism of former Senator and now Attorney General Jeff Sessions. Senator Lindsay Graham is quoted as saying “When it comes to the Senate, there’s an Article 5 understanding: An attack against one is an attack against all.”
Trump’s support in the Senate also appears to be weakening as Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee “rebuked Mr. Trump last week for ‘failing to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence’ required of presidents.” With upcoming battles expected in the fall over the debt ceiling, tax reform, and an ambitious infrastructure bill, Trump needs to be creating allies, not enemies, in Congress. The President might think he can replace the Senate Majority Leader (he can’t) but the Senate Majority Leader can sink the Trump Presidency.
Trump’s penchant for personal revenge, coupled with his political naiveté, might sit well with his core base of supporters, but it could be extremely damaging when directed at the leader of the Senate who would be in charge of his trial in case of impeachment.