By Katanga Johnson
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some U.S. Republican lawmakers joined their Democratic colleagues on Tuesday in criticizing President Donald Trump for labeling them as “treasonous” and “un-American” in response to the cold reception they gave him during his State of the Union address last week.
“Well, that borders on divisive,” the second-most powerful Democrat in the Senate Dick Durbin told reporters in a purposefully understated tone.
Speaking at a manufacturing plant in Ohio on Monday, the Republican president said Democrats “would rather see Trump do badly than our country do well.”
“They were like death and un-American,” he said of Democrats who sat stone-faced, robed in black in solidarity with victims of sexual misconduct, as he heralded the economy’s achievements in his address a week ago to a joint session of Congress.
“Somebody said ‘treasonous.’ I mean, eh. I guess, why not? Can we call that treason, why not?,” he said.
The remarks sparked a firestorm of criticism from Democrats on Capitol Hill.
Senator Tammy Duckworth quoted President Theodore Roosevelt in a response on Twitter.
“‘To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public,'” she tweeted.
White House spokesman Hogan Gidley said the remarks on treason – an offense punishable by death – were offered as tongue-in-cheek.
“The president was obviously joking. But what’s serious is the Democrats seem to put their personal hatred for this president above their desire to see America succeed,” he said in a statement.
But Democrats weren’t the only critics.
“Treason is not a punch line, Mr. President. Applause is approval of an idea, not loyalty to one’s country,” said Senator Jeff Flake, a Republican who frequently reproaches Trump and his policies, in a blistering attack on the Senate floor on Tuesday. “Our Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do. To suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable.”
Even Representative Mark Meadows, a leading Republican conservative closely allied with Trump, took issue with the president’s comments. “Certainly saying that someone’s un-American because of their unwillingness to clap is not something that most Americans would agree with,” he said on CNN.
But Republican Representative Claudia Tenney, also speaking about Democrats on CNN on Tuesday, said “I would say it was un-American, and they don’t love our country. I don’t know if I would go as far as treasonous, but the president is before a large audience and he likes to talk in colorful language.”
(Reporting by Katanga Johnson, Richard Cowen, Patricia Zengerle, Steve Holland and Doina Chiacu; Writing by Katanga Johnson; Editing by Tim Ahmann, Phil Berlowitz and Lisa Lambert)
Trump attacks 2 GOP governors on flight to Georgia rally: ‘Republicans will NEVER forget this’
Republicans have been "working frantically behind the scenes" to keep President Donald Trump on message during his Saturday campaign rally in Georgia, but the efforts do not seem to be working.
GOP strategists hoped Trump would make the case for the two GOP senators in the January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate, but Trump has continued to fixate on his delusions that he won the presidential election.
Aboard Air Force One on the flight to the rally, Trump attacked two GOP governors: Brian Kemp of Georgia and Doug Ducey of Arizona -- and seemed to threaten political retribution for the pair not going along with the president's debunked conspiracy theories about the election.
Trump holds large rally in Georgia — one day after the Peach State set a new coronavirus record
President Donald Trump departed the White House on Saturday for an evening campaign rally in Georgia -- despite the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump is ostensively making the trip to support Sen. David Perdue (R-GA) and interim Sen. Kelly Loeffler (R-GA) in the January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate. However, Republicans fear Trump will use his speech to continue bashing GOP Gov. Brian Kemp.
Trump's visit also comes against the backdrop of the coronavirus pandemic.
Panicked Republicans ‘working frantically behind the scenes’ — but Trump just keeps attacking GOP Gov Brian Kemp
Republicans are worried that President Donald Trump will pour gasoline on the intraparty inferno burning in Georgia.
Trump is officially traveling to the Peach State for a rally in support of the two Republican senators in January runoff elections that will decide control of the U.S. Senate.
Republicans worry Trump will continue to attack Republican Gov. Brian Kemp as he has on Twitter.
"Trump is to headline a campaign rally for Sens. David Perdue and Kelly Loeffler in the state Saturday night — his first major political event since before the Nov. 3 election. GOP officials are working frantically behind the scenes to try to keep the president on script at the rally, worried that he will use the forum to attack Kemp and other state GOP officials who have resisted his pressure, according to a person familiar with the discussions," The Washington Post reported Saturday.