War escalates between Trump and House Freedom Caucus

Trump tweetstorm

Has the atmosphere in Washington become so toxic that reaching across the aisle is considered out of the question?

Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker, known for bipartisanship, decried the bickering Thursday over the failed health care bill, tweeting in response to House Speaker Paul Ryan’s comments during an interview on “CBS This Morning” Thursday about not wanting to work with Democrats.

Republican Sen. Ted Cruz indicated he supported reaching across the aisle, saying Thursday that Republicans need to stop aiming their cannons at each other, CBS News’ Chip Reid reports.

After the health care bill failed last week, President Trump was quick to cast blame on the Democrats. In remarks shortly after the bill was pulled, Mr. Trump said “I think the real losers here are Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Schumer because they own Obamacare.” He said he was “disappointed” in the House Freedom Caucus, but he called them “friends of mine.”

Norah O'Donnell questions Paul Ryan about working with Democrats

But on Monday, White House press secretary Sean Spicer said Mr. Trump has received calls from both parties and is willing to work with Democrats if necessary. Ryan told CBS News’ Norah O’Donnell that he “doesn’t want that to happen.”

“I want a patient-centered system. I don’t want government running health care,” Ryan said.

Mr. Trump bookended Thursday with tweets attacking the House Freedom Caucus, declaring war on his “friends.” On Thursday morning, Mr. Trump tweeted that “we must fight” the conservative band of representatives.  

By late Thursday afternoon, he tweeted at specific members, Reps. Mark Meadows, Jim Jordan and Raul Labrador, saying they needed to “get on board” for “both great health care and massive tax cuts and reform.”

Additionally, Rep. Mark Sanford of South Carolina, a Freedom Caucus member, said Mr. Trump threatened to support a primary challenger to run against him in next year’s elections, according to Reid.

The House Freedom Caucus pushed back on Trump’s criticism. Rep. Justin Amash tweeted Thursday that “it didn’t take long for the swamp to drain @realdonaldtrump. No shame, Mr. Trump. Almost everyone succumbs to the D.C. establishment.”

Later, Amash called the President a “childish bully,” saying, “It’s constructive in the fifth grade. It may allow a child to get his way, but that’s not how our government works.”

Labrador, meanwhile, tweeted late Thursday that the Freedom Caucus “stood with you when others ran. Remember who your real friends are. We’re trying to help you succeed.”