Bipartisan anger stoked by Trump tweets at TV hosts
Sanders: President fights back at his critics
The White House called President Trump a “fighter” on Thursday, defending his latest Twitter outburst against two MSNBC anchors, including Mika Brzezinski, who he said he refused to let into his New Year’s Eve party because she “was bleeding badly from a face-lift.”
Critics from across the political spectrum said the president had again stepped over the lines of decorum, had found new ways to degrade his office and was ruining his chances to pursue his policy agenda.
In a series of tweets, Mr. Trump said he no longer watched the “Morning Joe” program but was angered by hosts Joe Scarborough and Ms. Brzezinski nonetheless.
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mike, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” he wrote over two tweets.
White House deputy press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said the MSNBC anchors started it by spurring the president’s wrath.
“I think he’s been very clear that when he gets attacked, he is going to hit back,” Mrs. Sanders told reporters at the White House briefing Thursday. “I think the American people elected somebody who’s tough, who’s smart and who’s a fighter — and that’s Donald Trump.”
It was unclear what the latest provocation was, though Mrs. Sanders said the president was irked by a continuing stream of questions from the two television show hosts about his mental health. The pair have suggested a psychiatrist come on air to analyze Mr. Trump’s behavior.
“People on the inside say he keeps getting worse — and mentally, keeps getting worse,” Mr. Scarborough said on his program in May. “This is, unfortunately, not a learning curve. This is a man in decline.”
They also have called him a dictator, comparing him to North Korea’s Kim Jong-un.
Mrs. Sanders suggested they deserved the president’s wrath.
“It’s kind of like we’re living in ‘The Twilight Zone.’ They do this day after day after day, and then the president responds and defends himself, and everybody is appalled and blown away,” she said.
Mr. Trump’s tweets come just weeks after Washington was stunned by a Bernard Sanders supporter shooting up a House Republican baseball practice — an attack that sparked calls for a more civil conversation.
Sen. James Lankford, Oklahoma Republican, suggested Mr. Trump was violating such calls.
“The president’s tweets today don’t help our political or national discourse and do not provide a positive role model for our national dialogue,” he said.
House Speaker Paul D. Ryan also criticized the president’s tweet at a briefing on Capitol Hill. “I don’t see that as an appropriate comment,” Mr. Ryan said.
Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican, tweeted: “Please just stop. This isn’t normal and it’s beneath the dignity of your office.”
On the Democratic side, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said Mr. Trump’s tweets were “blatantly sexist.”
Rep. Adam B. Schiff, ranking member of the House intelligence committee, tweeted that Mr. Trump should spend more time doing his job instead of attacking journalists.
“Wish @realDonaldTrump spent as much time doing his job as he does bullying female TV hosts. Unpresidential, offensive and childish,” Mr. Schiff tweeted.
Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel, however, said that the remarks made by the MSNBC hosts justified Mr. Trump’s actions.
“Today, the president acted like a human and he pushed back,” Ms. McDaniel said on Fox News. “Let’s look at ‘Morning Joe’ and what they’ve said about the president since January. They’ve said he has dementia, they said he’s stupid, they’ve called him a goon, they’ve called him a thug, they said he’s mentally ill, they’ve said he’s an embarrassment.”
First lady Melania Trump agreed that when her husband is attacked, he will attack back.
“As the First Lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” according to a statement from Stephanie Grisham, communications director for Mrs. Trump, who has made cyberbullying the issue she’d like to focus on during her time in political life.