Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the veteran Republican and Senate president pro tempore, said Wednesday he wasn’t comfortable with President Donald Trump calling former White House staffer Omarosa Manigault Newman, the only African-American to have served in a senior role in the White House, as a “dog.”
“No, I’m not comfortable with that,” Hatch, a close ally of Trump’s, told CNN Wednesday. “I don’t think words like that should be used especially by the President … I think he should rise above that.”
Manigault Newman was fired from her job as director of communications for the Office of Public Liaison by Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly last December.
Trump tweeted on Tuesday: “When you give a crazed, crying lowlife a break, and give her a job at the White House, I guess it just didn’t work out. Good work by General Kelly for quickly firing that dog!” Trump tweeted Tuesday.”
Trump’s tweet is at best a sharp departure from the language typically employed by Presidents and at worst a reference that traffics in sexual and racial imagery. Trump has long denied being racist and has dismissed a claim made by Manigault Newman that he used a racial slur on the set of “The Apprentice.” He’s also invoked “dog” to insult non-African-Americans – including Mitt Romney and former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon.
Trump’s attacks on Manigault Newman come as her tell-all book “Unhinged: An Insider Account of the Trump White House” is released this week, which contains several unflattering claims against the President and his staff. White House press secretary Sarah Sanders has said the book is “riddled with lies and false accusations.”
Hatch wasn’t the only Republican senator to speak out. Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona condemned Trump’s name-calling and said his fellow Republicans “should not be okay with it.”
“This kind of language is unbecoming of a President of the United States. There is no excuse for it, and Republicans should not be okay with it,” Flake tweeted Tuesday.
However, other Republican senators declined to weigh in Wednesday.
“You might have guessed that I don’t have a comment on that,” Sen. John Cornyn, a Texas Republican who, as whip, is the No. 2 GOP Senate leader, said as he entered an elevator.
CNN’s Veronica Stracqualursi and Lauren Fox contributed to this report.