Inside the Trump and McConnell feud, from health care to the budget

From Twitter jabs to shouting matches, the feud between the president of the United States and Senate majority leader is anything but subtle.

But Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., joined together in the White House Rose Garden Monday after a lunch meeting and said their relationship is “better than ever” and remained united on passing tax reform.

“We’ve been friends for a long time,” Trump said. “My relationship with this gentleman has been outstanding.”

McConnell reiterated the sentiment and added that the pair talks “all of the time” and have “the same agenda.”

Despite Monday’s press conference, the two have seemingly been at each other’s throats for some time. Read on for a look at the feud between McConnell and Trump and how it got started.

Health care

Perhaps the greatest dispute between McConnell and Trump during Trump’s young presidency is over health care.

Trump campaigned on the promise to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s controversial health care law, dubbed ObamaCare. McConnell, like many other Republican lawmakers, have railed on ObamaCare since it was enacted.

Over the summer, Senate Republicans tried and failed multiple times to piece together a health care reform bill that would have passed.

Trump urged McConnell to “get health care plan approved” on Twitter – and criticized him multiple times when that didn’t happen.

“Can you believe that Mitch McConnell, who has screamed Repeal & Replace for 7 years, couldn’t get it done,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 10.

Trump has often said that he’s “very disappointed in Mitch.”


In turn, McConnell assailed the president as having “excessive expectations” during an event in Kentucky.

“Our president has of course not been in this line of work before, and I think [he] had excessive expectations about how quickly things happen in the democratic process,” McConnell said.

Trump denied the charges.

Before he tweeted, Trump called McConnell to express his extreme disappointment, a source told Fox News. The call was tense, according to the source.

And when recently asked about McConnell’s future as majority leader, Trump left the question unanswered.

"Well, I tell you what, if he doesn't get repeal-and-replace done and if he doesn't get taxes done, meaning cuts and reform, and if he doesn't get a very easy one to get done, infrastructure, if he doesn't get them done, then you can ask me that question," Trump told reporters on Aug. 10.

As more media attention has focused on the feud between Trump and McConnell, the president tweeted again on Aug. 24 to say that the “only problem” he has with McConnell is that he couldn’t pass health care reform legislation.

Russia investigations

On the same phone call in which Trump hounded McConnell over health care, Trump berated the majority leader on congressional investigations into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.


Federal investigators and congressional committees are looking into Russia’s influence on the presidential election and whether Trump or his associates were involved.

Trump was also “animated” during his call with McConnell when he blasted him for what Trump saw as his refusal to protect him from the investigation, according to The New York Times.

Debt ceiling

Trump criticized McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan in a series of tweets on Aug. 24 for not tying budget legislation to a veterans bill that passed Congress.

“I requested that [McConnell] and [Ryan] tie the Debt Ceiling legislation into the popular V.A. Bill (which just passed) for easy approval,” Trump tweeted. “They didn’t do it so now we have a big deal with Dems holding them up (as usual) on Debt Ceiling approval. Could have been so easy – now a mess!”


McConnell clearly struck a nerve with Trump when he told an audience in his home state of Kentucky that Trump had “not been in this line of work before.”


He’s also privately questioned Trump’s willingness to learn and governing style, according to The New York Times.

‘Remain united’

The White House maintained the two lawmakers are “united” and even share many of the same priorities, press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Aug. 23.

“President Donald J. Trump and Senator Mitch McConnell remain united on many shared priorities, including middle-class tax relief, strengthening the military, constructing a southern border wall and other important issues,” she said.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky during a ceremony at the White House. The feud between McConnell and Trump has escalated over recent weeks.

President Donald Trump shakes hands with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky during a ceremony at the White House. The feud between McConnell and Trump has escalated over recent weeks. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

Sanders also said McConnell and Trump will meet for “previously scheduled meetings following the August recess.”

McConnell also said that same day that he and Trump are “committed” to working together.

“We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together,” he said. “Anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation.”


Before Trump took over the White House, he tweeted his support of McConnell and advocated for him to become the majority leader multiple times.

In Feb. 2013, Trump suggested on social media that McConnell “get rid of jinxed” political consultant Karl Rove.

In 2014, Trump urged Kentuckians to re-elect McConnell in order to bring money and power to the state.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.