- REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell held an impromptu press conference on Monday to project unity following reports that the two have a strained relationship.
Speaking in the Rose Garden, Trump said the Republican Party was “very unified” and that the two “spent quite a bit of time” together and frequently chat on the phone.
“Despite what we read, we’re probably now, I think, at least as far as I’m concerned, closer than ever before,” Trump said. “Our relationship is very good.”
He added: “My relationship with this gentleman is outstanding, has been outstanding.”
Trump said the two leaders would continue to work on the president’s plan to overhaul the US tax code, and McConnell added that the two often have phone calls on the weekend that they do not disclose to the press.
“We have the same agenda,” McConnell said. “We’ve been friends and acquaintances for a long time.”
In August, The New York Times reported that Trump’s relationship with McConnell had devolved to “mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility” as McConnell expressed uncertainty that the president could salvage the legislative agenda that Republicans laid out earlier this year.
Many of Trump’s allies outside the White House have repeatedly complained about McConnell’s leadership. The president has publicly blamed McConnell for Republicans’ stalled agenda in Congress and the failure to pass healthcare legislation.
The only problem I have with Mitch McConnell is that, after hearing Repeal & Replace for 7 years, he failed!That should NEVER have happened!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 24, 2017
Speaking for about 40 minutes on Monday, Trump answered several questions on a wide variety of subjects:
- Trump said the gunman who killed 58 people and injured hundreds more in Las Vegas earlier this month was a “demented, sick individual” and that “the wires were crossed pretty badly in his brain.” Trump also lamented the slow pace of Senate confirmations for his judicial nominees. McConnell also knocked the former White House strategist Steve Bannon’s attempt to unseat some Republican incumbents who Bannon thinks are not sufficiently aligned with his far-right political agenda.