Donald Trump isn’t happy with Congress — and he’s retaliating with passive aggression.
Last week, congressional Republicans failed to pass four different Obamacare repeal bills and sent a Russia, Iran, and North Korea sanctions bill to Trump’s desk that the president didn’t want in the first place.
On Wednesday, Trump did sign the sanctions bill — grudgingly — with a statement claiming he is much better at dealmaking than Congress is. On Thursday morning, he angrily tweeted that Republican lawmakers are ruining his relationship with Russia.
Our relationship with Russia is at an all-time & very dangerous low. You can thank Congress, the same people that can't even give us HCare!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2017
As Vox’s Zeeshan Aleem explained, the Russia sanctions bill, a punishment for meddling in the 2016 presidential election, took the sanctions decision out of Trump’s hands. And Trump, who has been very vocal about wanting to soften relationships with Russian President Vladimir Putin, isn’t happy.
Trump’s statement about signing the bill was a clear F-you to Congress:
“I built a truly great company worth many billions of dollars. That is a big part of the reason I was elected. As President, I can make far better deals with foreign countries than Congress.”
Already Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) responded to the president’s tweet with his own, asserting Trump’s response to the sanctions bill was misguided:
Our relationship w/ Russia is at dangerous low. You can thank Putin for attacking our democracy, invading neighbors & threatening our allies— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 3, 2017
It’s clear Trump is desperate not to look like a loser. The past weeks have been filled with staffing shake-ups in the White House, a renewed focus on the administration’s alleged Russia ties, and the Senate’s inability to pass a health care bill. Congress has yet to enact a single signature piece of legislation, and the calendar ahead doesn’t look much better.
In response, Trump has not shied away from putting his own party on blast.
He has reportedly held Republicans members’ seats over their heads. He had Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke threaten Alaskan energy interests if Sen. Lisa Murkowski didn’t vote for the health bill (she didn’t vote for any of them). During the House’s debate over the health bill, he told House Republicans, "I honestly think many of you will lose your seats in 2018 if you don't get this done."
The president, still struggling with low approval ratings, appears to care about two things: loyalty and the promise of quick policy wins. Apparently, as far as he’s concerned, congressional Republicans, who have already twisted themselves into many excuses for Trump’s scandal-plagued White house, have failed to deliver on both fronts.
It’s unlikely that picking a fight with them on Twitter, however, will fix this problem.