Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Kentucky Republican, thinks so little of President Donald Trump as their relationship has “disintegrated” that he wonders whether Trump’s presidency can survive after a series of setbacks in recent months, per a new report from the New York Times.
The Times’ Alex Burns and Jonathan Martin wrote late Tuesday:
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. What was once an uneasy governing alliance has curdled into a feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility, complicated by the position of Mr. McConnell’s wife, Elaine L. Chao, in Mr. Trump’s cabinet, according to more than a dozen people briefed on their imperiled partnership. Angry phone calls and private badmouthing have devolved into open conflict, with the president threatening to oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing to their defense.
The report, filled with explosive details, spells trouble for the two GOP heavyweights walking into a month of serious major political maelstroms with the debt ceiling, spending bill, tax reform, and a retry at healthcare looming–among other fights. Both Trump and McConnell themselves refused comment for the Times story, but McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said the president and majority leader had “shared goals” including “tax reform, infrastructure, funding the government, not defaulting on the debt, passing the defense authorization bill.”
“Still, the back-and-forth has been dramatic,” Burns and Martin wrote, pointing to how Trump ripped McConnell via Twitter multiple times in a “series of tweets” and “then berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.” Burns and Martin wrote:
During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation. Mr. McConnell has fumed over Mr. Trump’s regular threats against fellow Republicans and criticism of Senate rules, and questioned Mr. Trump’s understanding of the presidency in a public speech. Mr. McConnell has made sharper comments in private, describing Mr. Trump as entirely unwilling to learn the basics of governing.