President Donald Trump expressed discontentment with Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) on Oct. 17 after leaked audio revealed the Nebraska senator criticized the president while on a call to constituents earlier this week.
In a series of Twitter posts, Trump described Sasse as the "least effective" of all the Republican senators and suggested that he "truly doesn’t have what it takes to be great."
Sasse said he's been honest about how he felt about Trump, saying the president had "done some stuff well, and some poorly."
The senator, who is pessimistic about Trump's chances at the polling booth, also expressed his concern that Trump and his actions could further polarize the country by driving the country further to the left, and "take the Senate down with him."
"This has been my fear," he said, according to the more than nine minutes of leaked audio. “[That] 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."
"I think we are staring down the barrel of a blue tsunami, and we’ve got to hold the Senate, and that’s what I’m focused on," Sasse said.
At around midday, the president posted on Twitter again, floating the idea that Sasse, who is up for reelection on Nov. 3, could face the same fate as former Republican Sens. Jeff Flake and Bob Corker, who retired in 2019. Both senators had been critical of Trump.
"Senator Little Ben Sasse of the Great State of Nebraska seems to be heading down the same inglorious path as former Senators Liddle’ Bob Corker, whose approval rating in Tennessee went from 55 [percent] to 4 [percent], & Jeff “the Flake” Flake, whose approval rating in Arizona went from 56 [percent] to practically nothing," the president wrote.
"Both Senators became totally unelectable, couldn’t come even close to winning their primaries, and decided to drop out of politics and gracefully 'RETIRE.' @SenSasse could be next, or perhaps the Republicans should find a new and more viable candidate?"
Sasse, a first-term lawmaker, had previously challenged Trump on a number of issues, including the president's use of executive orders. He characterized Trump's use of the orders as an “unconstitutional slop.”
The criticism came after Trump signed four executive orders bolstering unemployment payments, deferring the payroll tax for most Americans, extending student loan relief, and directing officials to study whether measures temporarily halting all residential evictions are reasonably necessary.