Scalise: Pence aide ‘overzealous’ calling for a GOP purge

Scalise: Pence aide ‘overzealous’ calling for a GOP purge
© Greg Nash

House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.) said it's "overzealous" to call for a purge on GOP donors who haven't supported the administration's agenda.

He was responding to a recent remark from Vice President Pence's chief of staff Nick Ayers.

“Maybe he got a little overzealous," Scalise said on NBC News' "Meet the Press with Chuck Todd" in an interview set to air on Sunday. 

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He cast doubt on the possibility Pence would agree to a purge of different views within the GOP, which has struggled to unify enough to pass key legislation.

"Pence is a man of the House. He's served -- and I served -- five years with him here in the House. And he enjoys coming back. He's got great relationships," Scalise continued. 

Scalise's comments come after Ayers said wealthy Republican donors should "purge" members of Congress who have not been supportive of President Trump's agenda. 

“I’m not speaking on behalf of the president or vice president when I say this,” Ayers said, according to Politico.

“But if I were you, I would not only stop donating, I would form a coalition of all the other major donors, and just say two things. We’re definitely not giving to you, number one. And number two, if you don’t have this done by Dec. 31, we’re going out, we’re recruiting opponents, we’re maxing out to their campaigns, and we’re funding super PACs to defeat all of you," he said. 

“Just imagine the possibilities of what can happen if our entire party unifies behind him?" Ayers said of Trump. "If — and this sounds crass, we can purge the handful of people who continue to work to defeat him."

"Because, look, if we’re going to be in the minority again we might as well have a minority who are with us as opposed to the minority who helped us become a minority," he continued. 

Trump has not shied away from threatening to support primary opponents of lawmakers who have been critical of him. 

The president has praised various anti-establishment challengers looking to unseat incumbents, such as Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeAuthorizing military force is necessary, but insufficient Republicans jockey for position on immigration McCain, Flake warn against 'politically-motivated penalties' for Canadian defense firm MORE (R-Ariz.), who has been one of the more vocal GOP critics of Trump.