Donald Trump’s presidential campaign has a variety of hurdles to overcome, including his lack of support from congressional Republicans. The more the presumptive GOP nominee gets himself into trouble, the less Republicans on Capitol Hill step up to defend him.
And with that in mind, Trump spent some time with lawmakers yesterday, addressing House and Senate Republicans separately, hoping to cultivate a stronger relationship. How’d that go? The closed-door discussions appear to have gone in a very Trump-like direction.
Donald Trump’s attempts to win over skeptical Congressional Republicans grew tense Thursday when Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake confronted the presumptive GOP presidential nominee over his incendiary comments about Sen. John McCain, according to a source familiar with the closed-door meeting.Flake stood up for his fellow Arizona lawmaker by introducing himself to Trump as “the other senator from Arizona, the one who didn’t get captured,” referring to Trump’s criticism of McCain’s time as a prisoner of war during the Vietnam War.“Listen, I’m not part of this never Trump movement,” Flake said, according to the source, “But I’m in a very uncomfortable position where I can’t support you yet.”
According to the Washington Post’s account, Trump was the one who picked the fight, complaining about Flake’s criticisms. After their heated back and forth, Trump reportedly threatened to go after Flake publicly and ensure his defeat in 2016 – which led the Arizona senator to remind Trump that he’s not actually going to be on the ballot in 2016.
While the gathering was not recorded, and we can’t say with certainty exactly who said what, Flake later told NBC News’ Hallie Jackson on camera that the story of the meeting “was reported accurately.” He added that his confrontation with Trump “was pretty intense.”
Remember, this was supposed to be a nice, friendly chat among Republicans, helping the party feel more comfortable with its presidential candidate. But even an informal get-together between GOP senators and Trump can be the basis for a new controversy.
After the meeting, several GOP senators were seen “emerging from an alley next to the gas station,” suggesting they weren’t exactly proud of their attendance at the Republican gathering.
Wait, it gets worse.
Trump’s meeting with Senate Republicans may have gotten a little ugly, but maybe he had better luck impressing House Republicans? The Washington Post’s report added this gem:
Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) left the meeting worried about Trump’s grasp on the basics of the Constitution. At a lunch with reporters afterward, he recalled that the candidate did not seem to know what he was promising to defend.“I wasn’t particularly impressed,” Sanford said. “It was the normal stream of consciousness that’s long on hyperbole and short on facts. At one point, somebody asked about Article I powers: What will you do to protect them? I think his response was, ‘I want to protect Article I, Article II, Article XII,’ going down the list.”
There are seven articles to the U.S. Constitution. There is no 12th.