Donald Trump showed up on Capitol Hill to meet with Senate Republicans. His goal was simple: Speak with the group, assure them of his abilities, and get them to coalesce around his campaign. Instead, the meeting devolved into a hilarious and baffling shouting match with insults thrown in every direction – and at least one “I will destroy your career” threat made by Trump. Needless to say, it did not go well.
Things had a rocky start and only got worse as the minutes passed by. When Jeff Flake (R-AZ) stood up, Trump accused him of being against him. Flake responded with a burn.
When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”
“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials.
Flake, who has many Hispanic constituents told Trump he needs to stop bashing Mexicans because it makes the entire party look bad. Rather than acknowledge how his rhetoric was destroying any chance of building a future with minority voters, Trump got defensive. He threatened Flake and predicted that he’d “lose his reelection.” It’s unclear if Flake laughed out loud, but he did point out something Trump was apparently not aware of: Jeff Flake is not up for reelection this year.
In the same meeting, Trump bashed a Republican senate member, Mark Kirk (R-IL) who chose not to attend. Kirk had publicly withdrawn his endorsement of Trump in June and this was meant to be Trump’s way of payback. Calling Kirk a “loser,” Trump said he’d win Illinois without his help (something that, according to polling and history, seems nearly impossible). Not finished, he also called out Ben Sasse (R-NE) for similarly not supporting him.
Sasse’s response was to tell reporters that rather than attend Trump’s nomination, he would be taking his kids to observe a literal dumpster fire. His spokesman confirmed:
Sen. Sasse will not be attending the convention and will instead take his kids to watch some dumpster fires across the state, all of which enjoy more popularity than the current front-runners.
By this point, the entire meeting had devolved into score settling. Nobody walked away happy.
A defeated Paul Ryan was left to clean up this disastrous meeting with a bit of spin doctoring so outrageous, that you may actually walk away impressed with his finely-honed ability to bullshit.
What I thought was especially helpful today was our members just got access and got to ask their questions and talk about their issues. I thought he did a great job engaging with our members, and I think our members appreciated it.
Shorter Paul Ryan:
The GOP is disintegrating before our eyes.
Featured image via John Sommers II/Getty Images