Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao stood shoulder-to-shoulder Tuesday with President Donald Trump, the same man who railed against her husband, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, last week and demanded that the lawmaker “get back to work” on health care.
“I stand by my man – both of them,” Chao said, when asked by reporters what she thought of her boss’s criticism of her husband.
Chao attended a meeting with the President on infrastructure at Trump Tower, and stood to his left side when he spoke to the press about his agenda, followed by a series of questions about his comments on the recent unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
After Trump finished speaking to the media, he handed the podium off to Chao, as well as Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney.
Tensions flared last week when McConnell said at an event in Kentucky that Trump had “excessive expectations” of the pace at which Congress can operate. He criticized Trump’s White House for imposing “artificial deadlines,” saying it creates the wrong perception that lawmakers are underperforming.
Two days later, Trump used his favorite method to attack his critics and responded through Twitter.
“Senator Mitch McConnell said I had ‘excessive expectations,’ but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?” he wrote Wednesday.
On Thursday, he tweeted at the majority leader by his first name. “Mitch, get back to work and put Repeal & Replace, Tax Reform & Cuts and a great Infrastructure Bill on my desk for signing. You can do it!”
The two men also spoke on the phone last week about a path forward on repealing the Affordable Care Act in a conversation that was described by one White House official as animated.
While McConnell and his spokespeople remained largely tight-lipped about the public spat, Trump had no problem taking questions about it before reporters on Thursday, leaving the door open to calling for McConnell’s resignation. Asked whether McConnell should step town, Trump said to wait and see if he can repeal and replace Obamacare. “Then ask me,” he said.