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

President TrumpDonald John TrumpEsper sidesteps question on whether he aligns more with Mattis or Trump Warren embraces Thiel label: 'Good' As tensions escalate, US must intensify pressure on Iran and the IAEA 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 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 (R-Tenn.) and 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 (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 McCainThe peculiar priorities of Adam Schiff Ocasio-Cortez fires back at Lindsey Graham: 'Graham wants to bring back 1950s McCarthyism' Meghan McCain knocks Lindsey Graham for defending Trump's tweets: 'This is not the person I used to know' 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 CollinsGOP put on the back foot by Trump's race storm GOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks MORE (Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP senator: 'Outrageous' to say Trump's tweets about Democratic congresswomen are racist Fox personalities blast Trump's remarks Schumer blisters Republicans over response to Trump tweets: 'Where are you?' 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.