President Donald J. Trump’s transportation secretary is Elaine Chao. She is also the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). President Trump has been in a war of words with McConnell for the past two weeks ever since the Obamacare repeal and replacement bill failed to pass the Senate.
Married to McConnell since 1993, it would not be totally unreasonable for Sec. Chao to stand by her man and be loyal to the senator. But according to Sec. Chao, she’s refusing to take sides in the public feud between her husband and President Donald J. Trump.
Sec. Chao, 63, was formerly the Department of Labor Secretary from 2001 to 2009, serving two full terms under President George W. Bush. She also served as the Deputy Secretary in the Department under President George H.W. Bush, from 1989 to 1991.
No doubt a qualified candidate, Sec. Chao was an early pick for President Donald J. Trump. In fact, he gave her special recognition in March, which is Women’s History Month. Trump spoke highly of Sec. Chao while addressing women leaders from around the country at a Women’s Empowerment Panel.
On Tuesday, Sec. Chao was at Trump Tower in New York City to discuss an infrastructure bill.
After her meeting with the president, Sec. Chao took the journey down the elevator with Trump to join him as he briefed the press. The president gave the podium to Sec. Chao to address a press group that wanted nothing to do with her or her message about infrastructure. They were there to question President Trump about the events that unfolded in Virginia Saturday afternoon, and why his comments about the event did not conform with what the media expected of him.
Last week, McConnell said President Trump has “excessive expectations” about getting bills passed. He blamed the president’s lack of experience for his frustration with the “democratic process.”
“Our new president, of course, has not been in this line of work before, and I think he had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” McConnell said at the time.
McConnell also criticized the president’s social media habits, stating, “I’ve said that to him privately, and to him at events publicly. I think it would be helpful if the president was a little more on message.”
President Trump has not been shy in his criticism of McConnell, either.
In July, President Trump was upset about the Senate’s failure to repeal Obamacare. He tweeted: “The question for every senator, Democrat or Republican, is whether they will side with Obamacare’s architects or with its forgotten victims. Any senator who votes about starting debate is telling America that you are fine w/ the Obamacare Nightmare.”
Later in a July, a series of tweets from the president directly challenged the Senate and McConnell. Part of the tweets read: “200 Bills sit in Senate. A JOKE! The very outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing R’s in Senate. Mitch [McConnell], go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT’S TIME!”
After McConnell made the remarks about the president’s inexperience and lofty expectations, Trump continued his slamming of the Senate Majority Leader, directing two tweets at McConnell over the following two days.
On August 9 he tweeted: “Senator Mitch McConnell said I had “excessive expectations,” but I don’t think so. After 7 years of hearing Repeal & Replace, why not done?”
Then, on August 10 he tweeted: “Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!”
In a surprising twist, Trump received support against McConnell from an unlikely ally: Republican Senator Lindsey Graham (SC). He spoke in defense of President Trump, and dismissed McConnell’s claim that Trump simply had “unrealistic expectations.”
“I like Mitch, but for eight years, we’ve been saying we’re going to repeal and replace Obamacare. It’s not like we made this up overnight,” Graham said on Fox News’ “Brian Kilmeade Show.”
“I’m not giving up, President Trump’s not giving up,” Graham continued. “There is no way to sugar coat this. The Republican party promised for eight years to repeal and replace Obamacare. We failed, and if we give up, shame on us.”
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