Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska launched into a scathing critique of President Trump’s leadership in a telephone town-hall with constituents despite supporting his reelection, offering a glaring example of the discontent many Republican lawmakers have with the president.
Asked by a constituent about his relationship with Trump, Sasse highlighted what they have in common briefly launching into an extended criticism of Trump, according to audio of the call obtained by the Washington Examiner.
Sasse, a member of the Senate Intelligence Committee, alleged Trump “kisses dictators’ butts” and “sells out our allies,” even going so far as to say he has “flirted with white supremacists.”
Trump “ignored” coronavirus and then “went into full economic shutdown mode” while proposing sub-part mitigation measures, Sasse claimed, summing up his pandemic leadership as not being “reasonable or responsible or right.”
Sasse repeated accusations made by many never-Trump Republicans that Trump doesn’t embody traditional conservative values in his lack of concern for the deficit and his private ridicule of evangelicals, also echoing vocal concerns from some of his GOP Senate colleagues that Trump may have hurt Republicans in Congress electorally.
Sasse’s spokesperson James Wegmann confirmed the comments to Forbes while asserting in a statement that Sasse is only focused on maintaining GOP control of the Senate, which he said is far more important than control of the White House.
Forbes has reached out to the White House and Trump campaign for comment.
Sasse has often been one of Trump’s most vocal critics within the GOP ranks, refusing to support him in 2016 and flirting with the possibility of becoming an “independent conservative” in 2018. But Sasse has nonetheless voted largely in line with Trump, including voting to acquit him during his impeachment trial in February. Sasse’s vocal criticism quieted somewhat after Trump endorsed his reelection in 2019 – which Sasse later said was “unsolicited.” Sasse called Trump’s executive orders on stimulus in August “unconstitutional slop.”
“RINO Ben Sasse, who needed my support and endorsement in order to get the Republican nomination for Senate from the GREAT State of Nebraska, has, now that he’s got it (Thank you President T), gone rogue, again,” Trump tweeted following Sasse’s scrutiny of his executive orders.
“Nearly every reporter in Washington has experienced it: A Republican member of Congress says ‘off the record,’ shifts into a quieter voice, and expresses how much he or she doesn’t like President Donald Trump,” wrote Atlantic staff writer Edward-Isaac Dovere in September.
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