Hatch defends McConnell against Trump's attacks

Hatch defends McConnell against Trump's attacks
© Greg Nash

Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchLive coverage: FBI chief, Justice IG testify on critical report On The Money: Trump imposes B in tariffs on China | China blasts 'fickle' Trump, promises payback | Trump to name consumer bureau director next week Trump announces tariffs on billion in Chinese goods MORE (R-Utah) on Thursday defended Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate passes 6B defense bill Poll: Kim Jong Un has higher approval among Republicans than Pelosi The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Outcry raises pressure on GOP for immigration fix MORE after President Trump ratcheted up his criticism of the Kentucky Republican.

"[McConnell] has been the best leader we’ve had in my time in the Senate, through very tough challenges. I fully support him," Hatch, the most senior Republican senator, wrote in a tweet.

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' Romney backs Laura Bush on border: 'We need a more compassionate answer' Mark Sanford’s troubles did not begin with Trump MORE (R-Ariz.), who has emerged as a vocal critic of Trump, also chimed in with support for McConnell.

The backing for McConnell came as Trump on Thursday escalated his attack against the GOP leader for failing to pass his legislative agenda.

"Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn't get it done. Must Repeal & Replace ObamaCare!" Trump tweeted earlier in the day, calling for McConnell to "get back to work."

The president also suggested that McConnell may consider stepping down if he can't pass Trump's legislative agenda, which includes healthcare and tax reform as well as a new infrastructure package.

“If he doesn’t get repeal and replace done, and if he doesn’t get taxes done — meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn’t get a very easy one to get done — infrastructure — if he doesn’t get them done, then you can ask me that question,” Trump told reporters at his New Jersey golf club.

Trump's comments came after McConnell remarked earlier this week that the first-term president had “excessive expectations” about pushing his agenda through Congress.

Hatch has come to the defense of other Republicans who have faced criticism from Trump.

The Utah senator defended Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsSessions responds to Nazi comparisons: 'They were keeping the Jews from leaving' Laura Ingraham: Migrant child detention centers 'essentially summer camps' Senate chaplain offers prayer 'as children are being separated from their parents' MORE, his former Senate GOP colleague, after Trump vented his frustration last month over Sessions's decision to recuse himself from the probe into Russia's election meddling.

Hatch and several other Republican senators also broke with Trump in late July after he announced on Twitter that transgender troops would be banned from serving in the military.

- This story was updated at 5:53 p.m.