Since the end of the TrumpCare fiasco, Donald Trump has spent the past two weeks sniping at Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in increasingly hostile fashion. It’s never been entirely clear if Trump has been looking for a scapegoat for his failed agenda, or merely yet another controversial distraction. But today the brewing war between Trump and McConnell just got much uglier for them both.
Today’s trouble began when Trump decided to directly threaten the job of Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona. Trump tweeted “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!” (link). In the process, he informally endorsed Flake’s extremist challenger in the 2018 Republican primary race. This threat to the job security of a sitting Republican Senator prompted McConnell to finally take the bait and push back against Trump’s attacks.
McConnell used his “Team Mitch” official Twitter account to post the following: “Jeff Flake is an excellent Senator and a tireless advocate for Arizona and our nation. He has my full support” (link). Although it wasn’t posted to his official Senate Majority Leader account, he did sign the tweet with his initials “MM” to confirm that it was coming directly from him. So now we have a Republican Senate Majority Leader trying to get a sitting Republican Senator reelected, while a Republican President works to get that Senator unseated in a primary challenge.
This goes far beyond mere disagreements about legislative priorities or whether Congress should take another failed swing at health care, which up to now has been the crux of Trump’s negative tweets about Mitch McConnell. It also makes clear that as Trump inevitably continues attacking and threatening Republican Senators as he falls further into a tailspin, McConnell intends to go to war in order to defend his own Senate allies. This will get uglier fast.
Bill Palmer is the publisher of the political news outlet Palmer Report