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Sanford: Trump primary threats are 'counterproductive'

Rep. Mark SanfordMark Sanford5 lawyers leave Trump impeachment team ahead of trial: reports South Carolina GOP votes to censure Rep. Rice over impeachment vote Trump selects South Carolina lawyer for impeachment trial MORE (R-S.C.), a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, on Sunday slammed President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators given no timeline on removal of National Guard, Capitol fence Democratic fury with GOP explodes in House Georgia secretary of state withholds support for 'reactionary' GOP voting bills MORE’s threats to support a primary challenger against him in 2018.

“I think that those kinds of threats are counterproductive,” Sanford, who last month planned to vote against the proposed GOP measures to repeal and replace ObamaCare, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

Sanford reiterated what he told a South Carolina newspaper last month: that White House budget chief Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyOMB nominee gets hearing on Feb. 9 Republicans now 'shocked, shocked' that there's a deficit Financial firms brace for Biden's consumer agency chief MORE said Trump hoped Sanford would vote against the repeal-and-replace measures so the president could throw his weight behind a challenger. 

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"The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted ‘no’ on this bill so he could run [a primary challenger] against you in 2018," Sanford quoted Mulvaney as saying at the time.

Sanford, who has not been shy about criticizing Trump, noted on Sunday that he works for the residents of his district, not the president of the United States.

“I don’t work for him,” Sanford said. “I work for about 750,000 people in the first congressional district.”

Sanford also rejected suggestions from a libertarian website that he should run against Trump in 2020.

“This is news to me, so you’re making news. I’ve never heard of the website,” Sanford told Dana Bash.

“No, I’m going to try to run for Congress. I’ve already got two primary challengers,” he added.