U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday mocked Republican senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee who sharply criticized his White House performance.
The U.S. leader tweeted that "outside of Flake and Corker," his Capitol Hill meeting Tuesday with the Senate majority Republicans "was a love fest!"
Trump discounted that Flake, "with an 18 percent approval rating in Arizona," had said that other senators had privately voiced their own concerns about Trump.
He followed that with a tweet saying Republican lawmakers are "working hard on the biggest tax cut in U.S. history."
Later, as he left the White House for a political visit to Dallas, Trump told reporters, "There's great unity in the Republican party."
Trump said media reports of his feuds with figures across the U.S. political spectrum make "me more uncivil than I am. You know, people don’t understand. I went to an Ivy League college. I was a nice student. I did very well. I’m a very intelligent person. I, you know, the fact is I think — I really believe, I think the press creates a different image of Donald Trump than the real, the real person.”
Trump's rebuke of Flake and Corker came a day after both lawmakers had offered brutal commentary on the first nine months of his presidency.
Flake, in a speech on the Senate floor, announced he would not seek another six-year term in the November 2018 elections, then slammed Trump's behavior as “dangerous to our democracy” and called on other Republicans to denounce the president’s conduct.
“It is time for our complicity and our accommodation of the unacceptable to end,” Flake said. “Politics can make us silent when we should speak, and silence can equal complicity.”
He added, “We must never regard as normal the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals. We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country — the personal attacks; the threats against principles, freedoms and institutions; the flagrant disregard for truth and decency.”
His speech came after Corker and Trump traded taunts for hours.
"Standing up in front of the American people and stating untruths that everybody knows to be untrue, attempted bullying that he does, which everybody sees through, just the dividing of our country, the name-callings, for young people to be watching, not only here in our country but around the world, someone of this mentality as president of the United States is something that is I think debasing to our country," Corker said. "You would think he would aspire to be the president of the United States and act like a president of the United States."
"But that's just not going to be the case, apparently," he concluded.
In one of several Twitter comments about Corker, Trump called him a "lightweight" and "the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee."
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Flake’s and Corker’s comments were “petty.” She boasted that Trump was more popular in Arizona and Tennessee, both states he carried in 2016, than the two departing senators.
“The voters of these individual senators’ states are speaking in pretty loud volumes,” Sanders said. “I think that they were not likely to be reelected, and I think that shows that the support is more behind this president than it is those two individuals.”