Republican Sen. Ben Sasse blasts Donald Trump: He 'kisses dictators' butts' and has 'flirted with white supremacists'
WASHINGTON — Sen. Ben Sasse slammed President Donald Trump during a call with constituents this week, saying he "kisses dictators' butts" and has "flirted with white supremacists."
The Nebraska Republican was answering a constituent's question regarding his relationship with Trump, and the senator's past criticism of the president.
"The way he kisses dictators' butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uyghurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now. He hasn't lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers," Sasse said.
He continued, "The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor. The ways I criticized President (Barack) Obama for that kind of spending, I've criticized President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He's flirted with white supremacists."
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Sasse's office confirmed the legitimacy of the audio, which was first reported by the Washington Examiner. His office said the senator made the comments during a "campaign telephone town hall call that went to about 17,000 Nebraskans."
Sasse also slammed Trump's response to the coronavirus — which has sickened more than 7.9 million Americans and killed more than 217,000 — saying the president's leadership has not been "reasonable or responsible."
"The reality is that he careened from curb to curb. First, he ignored COVID. And then he went into full economic shutdown mode. He was the one who said 10 to 14 days of shutdown would fix this, and that was always wrong," Sasse said. "So, I don't think the way he's led through COVID has been reasonable or responsible or right."
Also, Sasse said he has disagreed with the president on many policy issues and "credential question(s)", and that he fears Trump is going to drive the country to the left, which is why he "campaigned for everybody not named Trump in 2016."
He continued that he believes many people misunderstand the results of 2016 saying that Trump did not win the presidency "because America wants more reality TV around the clock," stupid political obsessions" and "rage tweeting" but rather because "Hillary Clinton was, by far, the worst presidential candidate America has ever had."
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Republican lawmakers rarely publicly criticize Trump. Sasse's criticism comes just weeks before an election in which Republicans are at risk of not only the White House but the Senate majority.
Sasse stressed that point during the call with his constituents.
"If young people become permanent Democrats because they've just been repulsed by the obsessive nature of our politics, or if women who were willing to still vote with the Republican Party in 2016 decide that they need to turn away from this party permanently in the future, the debate is not going to be, you know, 'Ben Sasse, why were you so mean to Donald Trump?'" the senator said. "It's going to be, 'What the heck were any of us thinking that selling a TV-obsessed narcissistic individual to the American people was a good idea?' It is not a good idea."
Sasse's spokesman, James Wegmann, pointed out Sasse's concerns about the GOP maintaining control of the Senate in a statement to USA TODAY.
"I don't know how many more times we can shout this: Even though the Beltway is obsessing exclusively about the presidential race, control of the Senate is ten times more important," Wegmann said. "The fragile Senate seats that will determine whether Democrats nuke the Senate are the races Ben cares about, the races he's working on, and the only races he's talking about."