Conservative lawmakers tell Trump to 'back off' attacks on GOP colleague

Two conservative lawmakers are coming to the defense of a GOP colleague after President TrumpDonald John TrumpIvanka Trump, Jared Kusher's lawyer threatens to sue Lincoln Project over Times Square billboards Facebook, Twitter CEOs to testify before Senate Judiciary Committee on Nov. 17 Sanders hits back at Trump's attack on 'socialized medicine' MORE launched into a fiery attack against Rep. Thomas MassieThomas Harold MassieHouse in near-unanimous vote affirms peaceful transfer of power Ron Paul hospitalized in Texas GOP lawmaker praises Kyle Rittenhouse's 'restraint' for not emptying magazine during shooting MORE (R-Ky.) for suggesting he might delay passage of the $2 trillion coronavirus rescue package.

Reps. Chip RoyCharles (Chip) Eugene RoyMcCarthy faces pushback from anxious Republicans over interview comments Biden endorses Texas Democratic House candidate Julie Oliver Republican fears grow over rising Democratic tide MORE (R-Texas) and Paul GosarPaul Anthony GosarHillicon Valley: House votes to condemn QAnon | Americans worried about foreign election interference | DHS confirms request to tap protester phones House approves measure condemning QAnon, but 17 Republicans vote against it Pelosi must go — the House is in dire need of new leadership MORE (R-Ariz.), both members of the House Freedom Caucus, pushed back on Trump after he called for Massie to be kicked out of the Republican Party if he objects to the bill. Such an objection would then require House members to travel to D.C. in the midst of the pandemic for a roll-call vote.

Roy, who has quickly built a reputation as a firebrand, had a straightforward message for Trump: "Back off."


"@RepThomasMassie is one of the most principled men in Congress & loves his country. He is defending the Constitution today by requiring a quorum. There’s nothing 3rd rate about that, @realDonaldTrump. I may miss vote if he forces roll call (flights) but it will pass. Back off," Roy tweeted.

The economic relief package, the largest in U.S. history, is expected to pass with broad bipartisan support, like it did in the Senate, but it will be delayed if Massie opposes it during a unanimous-consent vote.

Roy and Massie have in the past faced ire from members of their own party. Last year, the two Republicans held up a long-delayed $19.1 billion emergency aid package that aimed to provide relief for communities and others who were recovering from natural disasters, hurricanes and wildfires, drawing condemnation from other GOP lawmakers.

Gosar tweeted shortly after Roy, defending Massie from what he suggested was an unfair attack from the president.

"@realDonaldTrump Mr. President. @RepThomasMassie is a good man and a solid conservative. He believes in the Constitution strongly. We won’t always agree on strategy or policy. But he doesn’t warrant this dressing down. Thomas—Hang tough brother. #CoronavirusOutbreak," Gosar tweeted.


Their public pushback comes after Trump lambasted Massie on Twitter as a "third rate Grandstander" from Kentucky who is seeking "publicity" if he votes against the Save Our Workers Bill.

"WIN BACK HOUSE, but throw Massie out of Republican Party!" the president wrote in a subsequent tweet.

Public sparring between Trump and GOP lawmakers has become increasingly rare as the president seeks to ridicule critics who speak out against him or his policies, often by going on the attack and sometimes even endorsing a primary opponent to hurt their reelection prospects.

Still, Trump was joined by Democrats in blasting Massie.

"Breaking news: Congressman Massie has tested positive for being an asshole. He must be quarantined to prevent the spread of his massive stupidity. He's given new meaning to the term #Masshole. (Finally, something the president and I can agree on!)" tweeted former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerrySeinfeld's Jason Alexander compares Trump dance video to iconic Elaine dance This time, for Democrats, Catholics matter President's job approval is surest sign Trump will lose reelection MORE.

The attacks put Massie in a difficult political position. Trump could seek to further punish him if he follows through with his "no" vote, or he could back down after taking such a public stand.

The vote in the House comes after the White House and Senate leadership scrambled to reach a bipartisan agreement that would provide financial relief to individuals, businesses and major industries impacted by the coronavirus. While neither side is happy with all aspects of the bill, the legislation aims to protect companies and industries such as airlines, hotels and restaurants that have seen their business suddenly slow amid guidance from the federal government to self-isolate and social-distance from other people.