Trump says he's 'very happy' some GOP senators have 'gone on to greener pastures'

President TrumpDonald John TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election MORE on Wednesday said he is "very happy" that some GOP senators from earlier in his term are no longer in the Senate, telling a group of supporters that those lawmakers have "gone on to greener pastures."

Trump went on a riff during a campaign-style speech to the Faith and Freedom Coalition in which he complained about Democrats blocking his desired immigration policies before acknowledging he was unable to pass his agenda when Republicans held both chambers of Congress.


"But we didn’t have enough votes because it was very close. We needed 60 votes, and we had 51 votes, and sometimes, you know, we had a little hard time with a couple of them, right?" Trump said, referring to the GOP Senate majority during the previous Congress.

"Fortunately, they’re gone now. They’ve gone on to greener pastures — or perhaps far less green pastures, but they’re gone," he said, without naming any senators. "I’m very happy they’re gone."

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley later told reporters aboard Air Force One en route to Japan that the comment was directed at former Sens. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing GOP senators frustrated with Romney jabs at Trump MORE (R-Tenn.) and Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.), who were outspoken critics of the president during the last Congress.

"There’s been some confusion over who the president was talking about this morning when he mentioned some senator, senators who’ve passed on to greener pastures, or not so greener pastures," Gidley said. "Some people in the media are speculating he was talking about Senator McCain. That’s absolutely ridiculous. He was talking specifically about Senators Corker and Flake."

Earlier in his remarks, he alluded to the late Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainDonald Trump's 2020 election economic gamble 2020 Democrats make play for veterans' votes The Memo: Democrats confront prospect of long primary MORE's (R-Ariz.) 2017 vote against what was known as a skinny repeal of the 2010 Affordable Care Act.

"I’m keeping ObamaCare alive because I felt I should do that," Trump said. "We had a chance to terminate it, and a gentleman voted against it after campaigning for many years to repeal and replace. Then he voted against repeal and replace. Someday somebody will explain that to me."

GOP Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsOvernight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Senate confirms controversial circuit court nominee Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiHillicon Valley: Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal | Facebook reports millions of post takedowns | Microsoft shakes up privacy debate | Disney plus tops 10M sign-ups in first day Senators press FDA tobacco chief on status of vaping ban Federal inquiry opened into Google health data deal MORE (Alaska) also voted against the skinny repeal. Both are still serving in the Senate.

Trump has regularly gone after McCain, who died of brain cancer almost a year ago. The president often brings up McCain's ObamaCare vote. He also has accused McCain of being bad for veterans and complained that he was not properly thanked for approving some arrangements for McCain's funeral.

Corker and Flake often took issue with the president's rhetoric, earning his ire over Twitter. Both men voted in favor of the skinny repeal of Obamacare, and regularly voted along party lines.

Both Corker and Flake opted not to run for reelection in 2018.

Updated at 8:58 p.m.