NYT: McConnell, Trump Not Speaking, Locked in ‘Cold War’ – Newsmax
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell are locked in a “Cold War” battle that is putting the Republican agenda in peril, The New York Times reported.
Trump has publicly and privately berated McConnell over his failure to rally his Republican members — who hold a slim 52-48 majority — into support of a repeal and replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. And McConnell has expressed concerns Trump — a newcomer to politics — is not educating himself on how governing works.
According to the Times, the two men have not spoken to each other in weeks. Before that, many of their conversations were punctuated with angry words. At one point, they even got into a “profane shouting match” over the phone when the president called to berate McConnell over the failure of the Obamacare repeal effort.
In addition to Trump’s anger over the failure to repeal and replace Obamacare, the president also feels McConnell has not done enough to stem the probes into possible connections between his campaign and Russian officials, the newspaper reported.
For his part, McConnell is angry over Trump’s threats to Senate Republicans who refuse to give him their complete backing and his criticism of Senate rules.
The majority leader also has expressed doubts whether Trump will be able to lead the party heading into the 2018 midterm elections. Some of McConnell’s concerns stem from Trump’s statements in the wake of the Charlottesville protests saying there were good and bad people on both sides.
But while McConnell has the backing of his Senate colleagues, he is in trouble at home, holding only an 18 percent approval rating among his Kentucky constituents, according to a recent Public Policy Polling survey. Kentuckians gave Trump a 60 percent approval rating in the same poll.
And while Trump’s national poll numbers are nearly half that, he still maintains strong backing of his base.
The rift between the two leaders most threatens the GOP agenda, the Times noted, pointing to deadlines on raising the debt limit and a rewrite of the tax code as Congress gavels back into a regular working session next month.
Trump’s support of a Republican challenger to Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake and his inspiration for a similar challenge to Nevada Sen. Dean Heller also could cause issues. Should those challenges cause both Senate seats to fall into Democratic hands, the majority would be lost, with no wiggle room to lose GOP votes.
Most Senate Republicans are sticking together against Trump attacks, with South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, often the victim of the president’s ire, comparing it to the NATO alliance.
“When it comes to the Senate, there’s an Article 5 understanding: An attack against one is an attack against all,” Graham told the Times.
But GOP strategist and Trump ally Roger Stone called for a step-up in the attacks.
“The president should start bumping off incumbent Republican members of Congress in primaries,” Stone said. “If he did that, Mitch McConnell and [House Speaker] Paul Ryan would wet their pants and the rest of the Republicans would get in line.”