President Donald Trump on Sunday escalated his feud with a Democratic congresswoman over his call to a Gold Star widow while, separately, top Republican lawmaker Mitch McConnell downplayed intraparty attacks and sought to refocus attention on the GOP tax plan.
“Wacky Congresswoman Wilson is the gift that keeps on giving for the Republican Party, a disaster for Dems. You watch her in action & vote R!” Trump tweeted of Rep. Frederica Wilson of Florida, adding in an interview on the Fox Business Network that he found it “sickening” that she said his chief of staff, John Kelly, would say anything to keep his job.
Wilson, who was riding in the car with the Johnson family when Trump called and founded a mentorship program from which the slain soldier had graduated, did not back down.
She called Kelly a “puppet of the president” on MSNBC’s “AM Joy” on Sunday and said the Gold Star father and retired Marine general criticized her to “divert the attention away from the president onto me.”
Trump said the conversation he had Tuesday with Myeshia Johnson — whose Green Beret husband, Army Sgt. La David Johnson, was killed in Niger — “was a very nice call.”
Wilson said she heard part of the condolence call, which she said was on speakerphone.
The president added on Fox’s “Sunday Morning Futures” that Kelly “was so offended that a woman would be, that somebody would be listening to that call . . . Actually, he said to me, ‘Sir, this is not acceptable.’ ”
Also Sunday, Trump advocated for the sweeping tax plan that GOP legislators hope to have on his desk by year’s end.
Adjustments are being made to ensure the middle class will “greatly benefit,” Trump said, though neither he nor his budget director, Mick Mulvaney, signaled a willingness to abandon the elimination of the state and local income tax deduction.
McConnell, with an eye toward shepherding the tax package through his chamber, dismissed Trump’s past tweets condemning him for failing to secure enough GOP support to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The Senate majority leader told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that he refuses to “get diverted” by “various comments that may be made at one time or another.”
Trump “doesn’t get nearly enough credit for the changes that he’s brought out that are unrelated to legislation,” said McConnell (R-Ky.), citing Supreme Court Justice Neil Gorsuch’s confirmation as an example. “But we’re gonna score a big legislation accomplishment here on tax reform in the very near future.”
The president also has aimed his ire at Republican Sens. Bob Corker, John McCain and Jeff Flake, among others.
Trump was asked on Fox whether the “bickering and feuding gets in the way of your agenda.”
“Sometimes it helps,” he responded. “Sometimes it gets people to do what they’re supposed to be doing.”
Mulvaney was asked on CBS News’ “Face the Nation” whether lawmakers were “wobbling” over the proposal to scrap state and local tax deduction.
“This is one of those issues that goes right to the fairness issue,” he said. “If you and I make the same amount of money, we live in a house that has the same value, our car is the same car, shouldn’t we pay the exact same amount in federal taxes? We should. That’s fair.”
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford), among the bipartisan New York representatives who want the deduction preserved so constituents don’t pay more in taxes, countered in a tweet: “OMB Dir. Mulvaney wrong about ending SALT deductions. NY & NJ subsidize rest of USA. Show some fairness Mick!”