Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell didn’t mean to pick a fight with Trump when said the president had “excessive expectations,” according to The Hill, and was surprised by the explosion it produced. The next day, Trump suggested on Thursday that McConnell should step down if he can’t push the president’s agenda forward.
GQ underscored how extraordinary it is for a sitting Republican president to suggest that a sitting Republican senate majority leader should resign.
Trump and McConnell endured a rancorous telephone call the night before Trump’s suggestion that McConnell should step aside, according to Politico:
In a terse but loud conversation Wednesday, the president made clear he wasn’t to blame for the Obamacare failure and was displeased with the criticism he’s gotten for it. McConnell didn’t give any ground, said people briefed on the phone call, and there are no immediate plans to speak again.
Then, on Friday, Trump turned up the heat even further from his New Jersey golf club:
We should have had healthcare approved. [McConnell] should have known that he had a couple of votes that turned on him and that should have been very easy to handle, whether it’s through the fact that can take away a committee chairmanship or do whatever you have to do.
Sources close to McConnell say he is stunned by Trump’s attacks. The two men had talked from time to time on the phone before this, but those conversations were often brief, and Trump often disregarded McConnell’s advice. McConnell has told people after meeting with Trump in the White House that it is difficult to keep the president on topic and that he wanders around verbally in a way that McConnell—a man who does not see the purpose in unnecessary words—doesn’t understand.
According to Politico, McConnell’s team has been amazed at the president’s unwillingness to sell the healthcare bill publicly, his lack of policy knowledge, his seemingly unending appetite for chaos, and his inability to control warring factions of aides, who complicate delicate negotiations by saying different things to different people.
As GQ notes, for the GOP, it’s an Alien vs. Predator situation: No matter which man wins the battle, the Republican Party loses the war. And that’s VERY good news for the Democrats.