With just weeks before one of the most important elections in American history, a major ally of President Donald Trump just broke with the White House.
His leaked comments quickly went viral — and what he said caused an immediate backlash among Republicans loyal to the president.
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Sen. Ben Sasse, R-N.E., viciously attacked Trump during a town hall meeting this week.
Sasse has been an on-and-off critic of Trump throughout his presidency, but has always backed the White House at critical times — like during Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination. Trump endorsed Sasse during his 2020 Republican primary against his pro-Trump challenger.
Sasse’s explosive comments this week, however, took the Nebraska senator’s criticisms of Trump to the next level.
The comments were first reported by The Washington Examiner after an audio recording of the senator’s comments were leaked. Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden’s campaign pounced on the comments.
Sasse spokesman James Wegmann acknowledged it was the senator and said the call occurred Wednesday.
Asked by a concerned constituent why Sasse always seems so eager to criticize Trump, the Nebraska senator first pointed out areas he agrees with the White House… and then went on the attack.
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“The way he kisses dictators’ butts. I mean, the way he ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang right now,” Sasse said. “He hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong Kongers. I mean, he and I have a very different foreign policy.
“It isn’t just that he fails to lead our allies. It’s that the United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership. The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor,” he claimed. “The ways I criticize President 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.”
Conservative lawmakers and politicians loyal to the White House condemned Sasse’s statements. Rep. Dan Bacon, R-N.E., told The Omaha World-Herald pushed back against Sasse’s attacks on the president.
“I don’t agree with most of the comments. I hope Ben will explain himself,” Bacon said.
“Senator Sasse is entitled to his own opinion,” Rep. Adrian Smith, R-N.E., said in a statement. “I appreciate what President Trump has accomplished for our country and will continue to work with him on efforts which help Nebraska.”
“I obviously don’t agree with the senator’s characterization of the president,” state GOP executive director Ryan Hamilton said. “That having been said, there’s more than enough room in our party for disagreements on a variety of issues.”
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“Ben Sasse could still be 100% accurate, and that wouldn’t make Joe Biden a better candidate for president — not one bit,” Hamilton said.
Trump’s defenders on social media called Sasse a Republican In Name Only (RINO) and defended the president’s record.
Sasse has positioned himself as a conservative willing to criticize Trump, but never this harshly.
Critics point out that Trump is trailing in the polls, and Sasse is seen as a potential presidential candidate for 2024.
The senator said he has worked hard to have a good relationship with Trump and prays for the president regularly “at the breakfast table in our house.” He praised Trump’s judicial appointments.
But he said he’s had disagreements with Trump that do not involve “mere policy issues,” adding, “I’m not at all apologetic for having fought for my values against his in places where I think his are deficient, not just for a Republican, but for an American.”
You can listen to the controversial comments below —
The Horn editorial team