Posted: 9:33 am Thursday, March 30th, 2017
By Jamie Dupree
For the fourth time in the past six days, President Donald Trump has used his platform on Twitter to take a swing at a group of more conservative Republicans in the House, this time raising the specter of using the bully pulpit against them in the 2018 elections, if they don’t get on board with his legislative agenda.
“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast,” Trump said on Twitter.
“We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” he added.
That quickly drew the notice of conservative groups here in Washington, like Club For Growth.
.@realDonaldTrump Freedom Caucus voters are Trump voters. Washington Dems are not.
— CFG + CFG Action (@club4growth) March 30, 2017
The Twitter jabs against the Freedom Caucus are becoming somewhat routine for Mr. Trump, who was frustrated that he was unable to convince those lawmakers to back a GOP health care bill last week.
Even before today, those type of tweets by the President have drawn frowns from some members of the Freedom Caucus, who say they’re not budging on their conservative principles, just to give Mr. Trump a legislative victory.
“I disagree with him,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) said earlier this week, after Mr. Trump signaled his displeasure with the Freedom Caucus opposition to the GOP health bill.
“My conscience was to get rid of Obamacare; this doesn’t do it,” Yoho said of the GOP plan that had the blessing of the White House.
Freedom Caucus member @justinamash response to Trump tweet: "Most people don’t take well to being bullied."
— Cristina Marcos (@cimarcos) March 30, 2017
“Some of the constant tweeting is at minimum distracting, and at maximum, counterproductive to a legislative agenda,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who told his hometown newspaper today that the President had delivered a threat to him over the next election.
Other Freedom Caucus members were not pleased with the President, and made it clear on his favorite medium.
@realDonaldTrump Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran. Remember who your real friends are. We're trying to help u succeed.
— Raúl R. Labrador (@Raul_Labrador) March 30, 2017
— Thomas Massie (@RepThomasMassie) March 30, 2017
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) March 30, 2017
At the White House, spokesman Sean Spicer tried to emphasize the positive, that Mr. Trump is cajoling reluctant Freedom Caucus members to get on board with his agenda.
But, repeatedly pressed about the President’s tweets, Spicer would only say, the tweets “speak for themselves.”
Sean Spicer on Trump's call to fight the Freedom Caucus: "I'm going to let the tweet speak for itself" https://t.co/05cILoIgCS
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) March 30, 2017
There were other signs of internal GOP discord, as House Speaker Paul Ryan made clear that he is worried that President Trump may end up trying to work with Democrats, if the GOP remains divided.
Paul Ryan tells CBS he's worried "this Republican Congress…will push the president into working with Democrats." pic.twitter.com/4RXCkzMGhi
— Dan Diamond (@ddiamond) March 30, 2017
In an interview with CBS, the Speaker said, “if this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the President into working with Democrats.”
That was noticed by one GOP Senator, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who swiftly rebuked the Speaker.
We have come a long way in our country when the speaker of one party urges a president NOT to work with the other party to solve a problem.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) March 30, 2017
About the Author
Jamie Dupree is the Radio News Director of the Washington Bureau of the Cox Media Group and writes the Washington Insider blog. A native of Washington, D.C., Jamie has covered Congress and politics in the nation’s capital since the Reagan Administration, and has been reporting for Cox since 1989.