Trump-Schumer rapport takes negative turn, again

The relationship between President Trump and Sen. Charles SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE (D-N.Y.) took a nasty turn Wednesday when the president accused the minority leader of bearing some responsibility for an attack that killed eight people in Manhattan.

A day after the deadliest terrorist attack in New York City since 9/11, Trump singled out Schumer for supporting a federal program to encourage diversity among visa holders. The suspect in the attack, Sayfullo Saipov, a green card holder from Uzbekistan, used the program to enter the country in 2010.

Schumer sponsored bipartisan legislation that led to the enactment of the diversity visa lottery in 1990, although a sweeping immigration bill he co-authored in 2013 would have done away with it.


Trump called the program “a Chuck SchumerCharles (Chuck) Ellis SchumerNYT: Don't make Acosta a political martyr Charities say they never received donations touted by Jeffrey Epstein: report Schumer to donate Epstein campaign contributions to groups fighting sexual violence MORE beauty” and quoted retired Army Col. Tony Shaffer suggesting on “Fox & Friends” that the Democratic leader shared guilt for “importing Europe’s terror problem.”

The salvo launched at Schumer seemed excessive even to some Republicans, just as his recent criticisms of GOP Sens. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (Ariz.) and Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerTrump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid Meet the key Senate player in GOP fight over Saudi Arabia Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures' MORE (Tenn.) have struck some veteran lawmakers as highly unusual coming from a sitting president.

Schumer struck back in a speech on the Senate floor and then at a press conference in the Capitol.

“President Trump, where is your leadership?” he asked, noting that after the Sept. 11 attacks in New York 16 years ago, then-President George W. Bush invited him and fellow New York Sen. Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - House to vote to condemn Trump tweet GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (D) to the White House to pledge his support and ask how the administration could help.

“The contrast between President Bush’s actions after 9/11 and President Trump’s actions this morning could not be starker,” he said.

White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders later told reporters that Trump was not blaming Schumer for the act of terrorism.

“Let me be really clear: the president did not blame Sen. Schumer and doesn’t feel that the senator is responsible for the attack,” she said.

Sanders said that “we believe very strongly that the individual who carried out the attack is responsible and no one else.”

Just over a month ago, the Trump-Schumer relationship seemed to be on the upswing after Trump cut a deal with Schumer to avoid a government shutdown and the New York Democrat was overheard bragging on a hot mic that the president likes him.

But things turned sour last month when Schumer bashed Trump for backing away from a deal to keep insurance premiums in check and accused him of running scared from his conservative base.

He questioned Trump’s grasp of the policy and — by implication — his competence.

“The president ought to know what he’s talking about when he tweets about bills because on this one, he has no understanding of what it’s about,” Schumer said, appearing exasperated with Trump’s sudden change of mind on a health-care deal that he had encouraged Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by JUUL Labs - Trump attack on progressive Dems draws sharp rebuke Republicans make U-turn on health care Trump announces, endorses ambassador to Japan's Tennessee Senate bid MORE (R-Tenn.) to pursue only days earlier.

  Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP struggles to find backup plan for avoiding debt default Trump nominees meet fiercest opposition from Warren, Sanders, Gillibrand MORE (R-Texas) said it would have been his preference not to launch into a partisan policy debate hours after a terrorist attack — just as he said he would have preferred that Democrats didn’t bring up gun control after last month’s mass shooting in Las Vegas.

“People have to make their own judgment about the president. Obviously there’s nothing I can do or you can do to change the way he deals with issues like this,” Cornyn told reporters.

Corker said the spat was “not an ideal way to bring out the best in our country.”

Trump and Schumer, who both hail from New York, got off to a rocky start earlier this year when the president mocked the senator on Twitter as the “head clown” defending ObamaCare.

Trump ridiculed him again in May when he called him “Cryin’ Chuck,” a reference to Schumer’s emotional speech months earlier in opposition to the president’s travel ban on people from several predominantly Muslim countries.

Lawmakers on Capitol Hill say the intensifying war of words between Trump and Schumer will make it tougher to get a bipartisan immigration deal.

They want to get a deal to avoid the deportation of so-called Dreamers, young people who came to the country illegally as children and have spent years integrated in the nation’s fabric.

“It’s probably not helpful,” said Sen. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamWhy Trump's bigoted tropes won't work in 2020 The Memo: Toxic 2020 is unavoidable conclusion from Trump tweets GOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm MORE (R-S.C.), who is leading talks with Democrats to craft legislation protecting Dreamers.

Schumer on Wednesday insisted he didn’t take Trump’s barbs personally and pledged it wouldn’t dissuade him from searching for a compromise on immigration.

“He’s called me names before. I stick by my values. It doesn’t divert me,” he said.

Asked whether the tiff would upset the delicate talks, Schumer responded, “Let’s hope not; the Dreamers need help.”

Some say it’s the latest example of Trump shooting himself in the foot.

“It doesn’t help,” said one Republican senator who requested anonymity to discuss Trump’s tweets candidly.

The lawmaker warned that if Congress cannot reach an agreement over what to do about the young immigrants, then Trump and the GOP will bear most of the political fallout, as voters will likely see them as primarily responsible for the failure.

“They have all the cards,” the GOP lawmaker said, referring to Democratic leaders. “They know who will get blamed and it won’t be the Democrats.”

“You can win elections by ginning up the base, but that only works for so long,” the source added, acknowledging that Trump’s tough line on immigration reform is likely to rally conservatives but predicting the damage with Hispanic and swing voters will come back to haunt the party.

Sources close to both Trump and Schumer downplayed the long-term implications of their latest fight.

Former Trump campaign aide Sam Nunberg said he would not be surprised if Trump reaches out to Schumer again to try and cut legislative deals.

“I think he could work with anyone in the future,” he said of the president. “He’s a very transactional and mercurial guy, and I say that in a good way. I don’t think it will stop him at all. The guy is a deal-maker.”

A person close to Schumer said Trump’s behavior on Wednesday fits a pattern that the Democratic leader is getting used to.

“This is what he does, calls him ‘Cryin’ Chuck’ and then wants to cut deals,” said the source. “None of this matters to Chuck. The substance of what they’re discussing is what will determine if he cuts deals.”