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Trump threatens to “fight” Freedom Caucus over legislative agenda

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For the fourth time in the past six days, President Donald Trump has used his platform on Twitter to take a swing at a group of more conservative Republicans in the House, this time raising the specter of using the bully pulpit against them in the 2018 elections, if they don’t get on board with his legislative agenda.

“The Freedom Caucus will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don’t get on the team, & fast,” Trump said on Twitter.

“We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!” he added.

That quickly drew the notice of conservative groups here in Washington, like Club For Growth.

The Twitter jabs against the Freedom Caucus are becoming somewhat routine for Mr. Trump, who was frustrated that he was unable to convince those lawmakers to back a GOP health care bill last week.

Even before today, those type of tweets by the President have drawn frowns from some members of the Freedom Caucus, who say they’re not budging on their conservative principles, just to give Mr. Trump a legislative victory.

“I disagree with him,” Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) said earlier this week, after Mr. Trump signaled his displeasure with the Freedom Caucus opposition to the GOP health bill.

“My conscience was to get rid of Obamacare; this doesn’t do it,” Yoho said of the GOP plan that had the blessing of the White House.

“Some of the constant tweeting is at minimum distracting, and at maximum, counterproductive to a legislative agenda,” said Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC), who told his hometown newspaper today that the President had delivered a threat to him over the next election.

Other Freedom Caucus members were not pleased with the President, and made it clear on his favorite medium.

At the White House, spokesman Sean Spicer tried to emphasize the positive, that Mr. Trump is cajoling reluctant Freedom Caucus members to get on board with his agenda.

But, repeatedly pressed about the President’s tweets, Spicer would only say, the tweets “speak for themselves.”

There were other signs of internal GOP discord, as House Speaker Paul Ryan made clear that he is worried that President Trump may end up trying to work with Democrats, if the GOP remains divided.

In an interview with CBS, the Speaker said, “if this Republican Congress allows the perfect to be the enemy of the good, I worry we’ll push the President into working with Democrats.”

That was noticed by one GOP Senator, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who swiftly rebuked the Speaker.


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