The Slatest

Trump Slams “Little Ben Sasse” After Senator Criticized Him During Town Hall

Ben Sasse purses his lips and holds his hands together.
Sen. Ben Sasse during the fourth day of the Supreme Court confirmation hearing for nominee Judge Amy Coney Barrett on Capitol Hill on Thursday. Pool/Getty Images

President Donald Trump took some time on Saturday to fire off some tweets against a fellow Republican. The subject of the commander in chief’s ire was Sen. Ben Sasse, who had criticized Trump during a telephone town hall on Wednesday. Trump refers to him as “Little Ben Sasse” and characterizes him as “the least effective of our 53 Republican senators.” Other choice descriptors include, “rather stupid and obnoxious” and “an embarrassment to the great state of Nebraska.” But don’t worry, “other than that,” Trump added, “he’s just a wonderful guy!”

Trump didn’t stop there, he then went on to compare Sassee to former U.S. Sens. Bob Corker of Tennessee and Jeff Flake of Arizona, saying he seemed destined to go “down the same inglorious path” as the two who left the Senate after clashing with the president. Sasse “could be next, or perhaps the Republicans should find a new and more viable candidate?” Trump said.

The tirade against Sasse came after reports that the senator criticized the president, saying things like he “kisses dictators’ butts,” has “flirted with white supremacists,” and makes fun of Christian evangelicals in private. Sasse was also critical of the president’s response to the coronavirus and said Trump’s family has behaved as if the presidency is “a business opportunity.” Slate’s Ben Mathis-Lilley said the senator’s attack, which appears to have been premeditated, amounts to “a belated spin job by someone who wants integrity to be part of his constantly expanding personal brand but didn’t want to challenge Trump in a way that would have mattered.”

On Saturday, Sasse didn’t seem eager to engage with Trump. “Ben said the same thing to Nebraskans that he has repeatedly said to the president directly,” James Wegmann, a Sasse spokesman, said. “Ben is focused on defending the Republican Senate majority, and he’s not going to waste a single minute on tweets.”