Sen. Ben SasseBenjamin (Ben) Eric SasseSenators dial down rhetoric at Barrett hearing after 2018 Kavanaugh brawl Gloves come off in Barrett confirmation hearing Senate kicks off fight over Trump’s Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Neb.) blasted President TrumpDonald John TrumpTwitter CEO calls blocking New York Post article without explanation ‘unacceptable’ Michael Cohen writing second book on Trump administration’s Justice Department As Trump downplayed the virus publicly, memo based on private briefings sparked stock sell-offs: NYT MORE saying he “mistreats women,” “kisses dictators’ butts” and privately mocks evangelical to constituents in a recording obtained by the Washington Examiner.
In a telephone town hall with constituents, a woman asks Sasse why he “[has] to criticize [Trump] so much.”
In response, Sasse pointed to areas in which he agrees with Trump, then criticizes the president’s response to the coronavirus, although he also accuses the media of having “pretended that COVID is literally the first public health crisis ever. And somehow, it’s Donald Trump’s fault. That’s not true. They just wanted to use it against him.”
“But 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,” Sasse added. “And that was always wrong. I mean, and so I don’t think the way he’s lead through COVID has been reasonable or responsible, or right.”
Sasse goes on to criticize the president’s handling of international human rights issues, accusing him of ignoring China’s treatment of both Hong Kong citizens and the Uighur ethnic minority.
“The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor. The ways I criticize President Obama for that kind of spending; I’ve criticized President Trump for as well,” Sasse said. “He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists.”
Sasse, who is up for reelection in November, publicly criticized the president on several occasions in the early years of his presidency. In 2019 and 2020, however, his criticisms were less frequent. The president endorsed Sasse for reelection last September. It is not clear when the audio of Sasse was recorded.
A spokesman for Sasse told the Examiner the senator’s focus was on maintaining GOP control of the Senate.
“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,” spokesman James Wegmann told the newspaper.