As we noted in a previous story, the Senate has proven to be President Trump’s most challenging adversary when navigating the winding path toward passing legislation. It’s been no secret that the President has been disappointed in Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, but now it appears that their relationship has completely deteriorated.
An angry phone call between the two men back on August 9th left them both fuming, according to CNN:
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have not spoken in nearly two weeks, since a phone call between the two men went awry and left the two men screaming at each other.
Sources with knowledge of the August 9 call said the exchange quickly devolved into a shouting match as an irate Trump expressed his frustrations about the congressional investigation into Russian interference with the US election last year and fumed about a Russia sanctions bill Congress passed that would tie Trump’s hands on the matter.
A White House official also told CNN earlier this month that Trump and McConnell had an animated conversation about health care after McConnell said Trump had “excessive expectations” about quick passage of an Obamacare repeal.
Following that phone call, there has been no direct communication between the President and his GOP leader in the Senate, according to WKYT:
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have reportedly not spoken in nearly two weeks.
The speculation comes at the same time the New York Times reports Senator McConnell says he doesn’t know if Trump can salvage his presidency.
The New York Times reports Senator McConnell made the comments about the president privately.
Neither the president nor the Senate Majority Leader has commented about that article.
Sources tell CNN the two have not talked since a phone call on August 9.
They say the call between the two men went awry and left them screaming at each other.
Now the feud has gone public and both leaders are taking shots at each other in the press. The New York Times reports that McConnell has said in private that he’s uncertain if the Trump presidency can be saved:
The relationship between President Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell, the majority leader, has disintegrated to the point that they have not spoken to each other in weeks, and Mr. McConnell has privately expressed uncertainty that Mr. Trump will be able to salvage his administration after a series of summer crises.
Last night, at a large rally in Phoenix, the President attacked McConnell without using his name, and blamed the Senate GOP for not eliminating the filibuster rule in order to get his agenda passed:
That line was a direct shot at McConnell’s inability to pass the Obamacare repeal legislation, among other things. For his part, McConnell would rebut the charges against him and point out that the President has done little to shepherd these causes through Congress, and continues to distract from the agenda with scandals and explosive tweets.
More on this from Washington Examiner:
The president’s renewed call for a major change to Senate rules comes weeks after the GOP effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed in the upper chamber due to a lack of support for several measures. Only 49 Republicans voted for the so-called “skinny repeal” bill that finally sunk the party’s push for healthcare reform. But some regulatory changes that might have won Republican votes could not be advanced through the reconciliation process being used to avoid filibusters.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., previously rejected such a move, telling reporters in May that eliminating the filibuster “would fundamentally change the way the Senate has worked for a very long time.”
“We’re not going to do that,” McConnell had said.
Senate Republicans have already attempted to bypass the rule via reconciliation, which requires a simple majority of 51 votes – including a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence – to pass any legislation that impacts the budget.
Republicans hope their upcoming bid for comprehensive tax reform will succeed, despite their recent failure to pass a healthcare bill using the reconciliation measure.
So, what will the McConnell/Trump feud mean for the 2018 midterm elections? That’s hard to say right now, given how far out we are. The two of them could reconcile quickly, pass something major and put this all behind them. Or, it could fester and worsen if the Senate continues to put the brakes on any and all legislation that Trump would like to pass.
One thing for certain is that Senators locked in tough primary and re-election battles, such as Republican Jeff Flake of Arizona, will continue to feel the “wrath of Trump” until things change with McConnell. As it stands, Trump has endorsed Flake’s opponent, a move which has angered McConnell and continued to drive the rift with Trump.