President Trump is shifting the blame for his failed attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare, criticizing Republicans on Sunday who did not support the GOP health care bill. He also offered to work with Democrats to push through his future policies.
We still don’t know what Mr. Trump’s next move is, but he spoke with House Speaker Paul Ryan twice over the weekend. The president also gave a shout out to one of Ryan’s critics.
The bitterest part of a big legislative defeat is the finger-pointing and recriminations, and these are bitter days for Mr. Trump and Congressional Republicans because they can’t even keep the blame game straight, reports CBS News chief White House correspondent Major Garrett.
“I think the president is disappointed in the number of people he thought were loyal to him that weren’t,” White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus told Fox News on Sunday.
Priebus joined Mr. Trump in pointing the accusatory finger at the Freedom Caucus and two conservative political groups. On Sunday Mr. Trump wrote on Twitter: “Democrats are smiling in D.C. that the Freedom Caucus, with the help of Club For Growth and Heritage, have saved Planned Parenthood & Ocare!”
That was a very sharp turn from Friday, when the president said this about the “very good people” of tea-party inspired Freedom Caucus: “No, I’m not betrayed. They’re friends of mine.”
With Republicans running all of Washington, Mr. Trump initially blamed Democrats.
“We had no votes from the Democratics. They weren’t going to give us a single vote so it’s a very difficult thing to do,” Mr. Trump said.
But Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said the White House barred his party from serious negotiations.
“The president never called us once about this. They came on board with repeal, which they knew every Democrat would oppose, and no one believes that,” Schumer said.
The president and his team, humbled by GOP disarray, are now looking across the aisle for help on equally tough legislative challenges.
“Is the Republican Party capable of governing? I know the man in the White House is capable of governing,” White House budget director Mick Mulvaney told NBC News.
Publicly, the president stood with Ryan after he declared Obamacare repeal dead.
“I like Speaker Ryan. He worked very, very hard,” Mr. Trump said.
But he nevertheless promoted Judge Jeanine Pirro’s Fox News program Saturday night.
“Paul Ryan needs to step down,” Pirro said on the program, which opened with a full-on assault on the speaker. “The reason? He failed to deliver the votes on his health care bill.”
The White House said it was nothing personal. Ryan’s spokeswoman said: “Their relationship is stronger than ever right now.”
That place is a legislative desert – no big accomplishments and none in sight anytime soon. Tax reform and infrastructure spending are next, but the same GOP divisions loom, and Democrats, sensing weakness in the White House defeat, appear as opposed to Mr. Trump’s agenda – possibly more so.