January 28, 2019


'Mean as a Snake': When President Trump Met the Real Mitch McConnell: An exclusive excerpt from a new insider account of the Trump White House. (CLIFF SIMS January 28, 2019, Politico)

As the meeting was coming to an end, an offhand comment piqued the president's interest.

"We're going to have to keep everyone together, because we're going to be doing this without any Democratic votes," McConnell said.

"Really?" Trump replied, suddenly intrigued. "You don't think we'll get any?"

The owlish, placid Senate majority leader spoke quietly but firmly. "No, Mr. President," McConnell said. "Not one." Democrats had passed Obamacare without any Republican votes. If Republicans were going to repeal it, McConnell believed they'd have to do it in the same way.

"What about Joe Manchin?" Trump asked, as if McConnell must have forĀ­gotten him. Manchin, a 69-year-old West Virginia Democrat who liked to position himself as above partisan politics and willing to work with the GOP, was coming up for reelection in 2018 in a state that Trump had won by 42 points. On top of that, Trump viewed him as a personal friend. Surely his buddy Joe would play ball.

"Absolutely not, Mr. President," McConnell said in a tone that seemed designed to end the debate.

"Really?" the president asked. Often the contrarian, he seemed to view this as a personal challenge as well as a test of his persuasiveness. "I have a wonderful relationship with him; I think he might come around."

McConnell didn't flinch. He stayed sitting upright in his brown leather chair, elbows on the armrests and hands clasped underneath his chin.

"Mr. President," he began, "he'll never be with us when it counts. I've seen this time and time again. We're going to do everything in our power to beat him when he comes up for reelection in 2018."

Trump seemed taken aback. He cut his eyes at Priebus, as if to say, Why did no one tell me this was an issue? He didn't seem angry, just befuddled.

"Well, Joe's been a friend of mine, so we'll have to see," Trump said, turning his attention back to McConnell. "Do we have to go after him like that?" "Absolutely, Mr. President," McConnell shot back without a moment's hesitation. "We're going to crush him like a grape." Outside the walls of the Roosevelt Room, the conventional wisdom was that men like McConnell would temper Trump's aggressive impulses. Just the opposite was happening right now. There was a brief silence--maybe a half second--when the atmosphere in the room felt like the scene in Goodfellas when no one can tell how Joe Pesci is going to react to Ray Liotta calling him "funny." Would he freak out? Would he laugh it off? Finally Trump broke the tension.

"This guy's mean as a snake!" he said, pointing at McConnell and looking around the room.

Posted by at January 28, 2019 12:35 PM