Steve Bannon spent the weekend attacking the GOP establishment, particularly Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), but on Monday the senior senator from Kentucky fired back at the former White House adviser.
"Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing", he said. They're just looking to find out who is going to be Brutus to your Julius Caesar.
"What Mitch will tell you is that, maybe with the exception of a few - and that is a very small few - I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate, and with the people in Congress, with our House of Representatives", he said. "And the relationship is very good".
The president's remark follows Bannon's appearance at the Values Voter Summit last week, where the conservative strategist declared war on Washington's GOP establishment.
Taken together, the slate of endorsements so far suggests that Bannon and his allies will be playing in a mix of open Republican primary contests - with the end goal of challenging incumbent Democrats - as well as supporting some primary challenges to sitting GOP senators.
McConnell noted that "the goal here is to win elections in November".
"The way you do that is not complicated", he said.
Bannon's effort to unseat Republican senators loyal to the majority leader met its first test in September's Alabama Republican primary when he supported controversial former judge Roy Moore over Sen. Chris McDaniel, who lost his challenge to Sen.
"That, obviously, is going to frighten Mitch McConnell more than anyone", he said. "And they're not getting the job done", Trump continued.
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Still, there were surprises. After failing to deliver on their promise to "repeal and replace" the health care law, Republicans fear that failure to deliver on taxes would be a political disaster. They argue that it is the last realistic chance to demonstrate to the conservative base that Republicans can notch a large-scale achievement after being handed complete control of the federal government.
"There are some Republicans who should be ashamed of themselves", the president added. "I'll be honest. They are not getting the job done".
The president singled out Sen.
"You had a few people that really disappointed us".
"We are in the valley of decision", he said.
"Steve is supportive of Nicholson and is supportive of Ward", the source close to Bannon said.
McConnell specifically mentioned upcoming issues in the Senate including tax reform and the budget. He has played golf recently with Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. - longstanding defense hawks defending the war funding - and questioned whether Republicans are serious about cutting automatic-pilot programs known as entitlement spending.
On Monday, he mixed praise with criticism.
McCain said in a statement, "I want to commend Chairman Alexander and Ranking Member Murray for reaching a bipartisan agreement to help stabilize the individual health insurance marketplace". "This is a fourth great turning in American history".