Congress is on recess until next month, when there is an ambitious GOP agenda
The rift seems tied to a phone call following a sanctions bill that passed Congress
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell have not spoken in nearly two weeks, since a phone call between the two men went awry and left the two men screaming at each other.
Sources with knowledge of the August 9 call said the exchange quickly devolved into a shouting match as an irate Trump expressed his frustrations about the congressional investigation into Russian interference with the US election last year and fumed about a Russia sanctions bill Congress passed that would tie Trump’s hands on the matter.
A White House official also told CNN earlier this month that Trump and McConnell had an animated conversation about health care after McConnell said Trump had “excessive expectations” about quick passage of an Obamacare repeal.
The New York Times first reported on Tuesday that Trump and McConnell have not spoken since that call and that the relationship has sunk to a new low.
The rift comes as Trump and the Republican majorities in Congress prepare to tackle tax reform, government funding negotiations and a deadline to raise the debt ceiling, or risk wreaking economic turmoil.
Both men shouted at each other during the call and Trump cursed at the GOP leader, sources with knowledge of the call told CNN. Soon after, Trump took to Twitter to publicly upbraid the Senate Republican leader, painting McConnell as ineffective.
One source said the primary cause of Trump’s frustrations with McConnell has been the GOP leader’s failure to protect Trump on the Russia issue, more than health care.
It’s also not the only recent point of tension between the two Republican leaders. McConnell, who publicly avoided criticizing Trump’s remarks on Charlottesville, Virginia, was privately upset with the President’s handling of the episode, a source close to the Kentucky Republican told CNN last week.
A senior White House official dismissed the extent of the rift between McConnell and Trump, but did not deny that Trump and McConnell have not spoken in weeks.
“It’s August,” the official said, noting the annual period of Senate recess.
The official also suggested that the relationship between the White House and the Senate Republican leader has been unaffected by the personal rift between Trump and McConnell.
Vice President Mike Pence spoke with McConnell on Monday and White House Legislative Affairs Director Marc Short has met with McConnell’s chief of staff several times in recent weeks as they’ve plotted how to handle major legislative issues next up on the Republican agenda, including tax reform.
Asked if the rift between McConnell and the President might become a hurdle in the future, the official replied with one word: “No.”