McConnell Privately Frustrated With Trump

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is reportedly frustrated with President Donald Trump and questions whether Trump can save his presidency.

Sources who spoke to McConnell told The New York Times that tensions rose after Trump equated white supremacists who were involved in violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, with counter-protesters.

Neither Trump nor McConnell agreed to comment for the Times' story. The newspaper reported that they have not spoken to each other for weeks.

Don Stewart, a spokesman for McConnell, stated that the pair had "shared goals," including "tax reform, infrastructure, funding the government, not defaulting on the debt, passing the defense authorization bill."

When Republican senators and members of the House return to Washington in September, they will have to pass a series of measures relatively quickly, including spending packages and an increase to the debt ceiling. Failure to do this could result in a government default, which the Times notes would be disastrous for the economy.

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The GOP also wants to push through a major tax reform.

Judd Gregg, a former senator and McConnell ally, indicated resentment towards Trump in Congress was widespread and said that Congress would have to govern on its own if the president "can't participate constructively."

"Failure to do things like keeping the government open and passing a tax bill is the functional equivalent of playing Russian roulette with all the chambers loaded," added Gregg.

Trump attacked McConnell on Twitter for failing to pass the healthcare reform in July, while McConnell criticized the president in public remarks by saying that Trump's lack of experience meant he had unrealistic expectations.

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In a telephone call initiated by Trump on Aug. 9, the president reportedly attacked McConnell for bungling the repeal of Obamacare and for failing to protect him from investigation by the Senate.

Speaking at the Louisville Chamber of Commerce on Aug. 21, McConnell rejected one of Trump's most frequent statements, telling an audience that "most news is not fake," according to Politico.

His remarks came hours after Trump tweeted a criticism of the media, writing, "Thank you, the very dishonest fake news media is out of control!"

McConnell also insisted that Republicans would get things done.

"There is zero chance -- no chance -- we won't raise the debt ceiling," he added.

But tensions between Trump and Senate Republicans could rise again on Aug. 22, with Trump planning a campaign style rally in Phoenix, Arizona. The Times suggested he may use the occasion to attack Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, a Republican critic of the president.

McConnell plans to hold a fundraising dinner for Flake, who is up for re-election next year, in Kentucky on Aug. 25.

Sources: The New York Times, Politico / Featured Image: U.S. Navy via Wikimedia Commons / Embedded Images: Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons, Elizabeth Thompson/Official U.S. Navy Page/Flickr

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