Wednesday 19 December 2018

Two Republican US senators fiercely rebuke 'undignified' Trump

A combination photo of Republican Senators Jeff Flake (L) of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee are shown in Washington, U.S., on March 31, 2017 and October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photos
A combination photo of Republican Senators Jeff Flake (L) of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee are shown in Washington, U.S., on March 31, 2017 and October 24, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts/File Photos
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

Two Republican senators fiercely attacked President Donald Trump on Tuesday, accusing their fellow Republican of debasing U.S. politics and the country's standing abroad in extraordinary public criticisms of a sitting president.

The onslaught from Jeff Flake and Bob Corker marked a sharp increase in tensions in what has been a fraught relationship between the president and congressional Republicans as Trump tries to enact his policy agenda.

In a dramatic speech on the Senate floor, Flake repeatedly targeted Trump's style of governing, saying American politics had become “inured” to "reckless, outrageous and undignified” behavior from the White House.

"The instinct to scapegoat and belittle threatens to turn us into a fearful, backward-looking people," said Flake, who announced he would not run for re-election next year.

"I will not be complicit or silent," Flake said.

By announcing he will be leaving when his term ends in early 2019, Flake has effectively freed himself up to speak his mind, without having one eye on voter reactions.

Senator Bob Corker, who has also said previously he is not running for re-election, earlier called Trump a liar who has damaged the country’s standing in the world, eviscerating the president with comments that stirred deepening divisions in the Republican Party.

“The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues,” Corker told CNN.

The revolt by the two senators, which could complicate Trump's efforts to push through his policy priorities, came just as the president seeks to build consensus around proposed tax cuts. Republicans control both chambers of Congress, but hold just a 52-48 majority in the 100-seat Senate.

Over the summer, Trump pilloried Senate Republicans - as a group and some by name - after they failed to garner sufficient votes to repeal and replace the 2010 healthcare law known as Obamacare, one of his top presidential campaign promises.

The dollar lost ground on news that Flake would not seek re-election because it added to investor worries about the fate of the tax plan, which has widely been seen as a potential boost to American companies.

It recovered after a Bloomberg report that at a closed-door lunch, Trump asked senators whom they would support to become the next Fed chairman. The Bloomberg story quoted one senator as saying that John Taylor, who is viewed in the markets as an inflation hawk, got the most votes.

Trump has also provoked the ire of another respected senior Republican, Senator John McCain, whose war record he mocked.

Last week, Republican former President George W. Bush, who has kept a low profile since leaving office in January 2009, took a thinly veiled swipe at Trump in a speech in which he decried "bullying and prejudice" and denounced anti-immigrant sentiment.

Reuters

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