President Trump defended former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon’s decision to back primary challenges to Senate GOP incumbents on Monday, but insisted that the Republican Party is “very, very unified.”
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“Well, I have a very good relationship with Steve Bannon. I like Steve,” Trump told reporters during an address from the Rose Garden. “Steve is doing what Steve thinks is the right thing.”
Bannon has vowed to back primary challenges to Senate Republicans who oppose Trump. Over the weekend, Bannon declared a “season of war” on the GOP establishment.
But Trump noted that he has a good relationship with most Republicans serving in both the Senate and House, though he repeatedly said that there are a few exceptions. The president has openly feuded with Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeGOP lawmakers stick to Trump amid new criticism Kelly holds double-digit lead over McSally in Arizona: poll Trump asserts his power over Republicans MORE (R-Ariz.), who has been a vocal critic of Trump.
“Maybe with the exception of a few, I have a fantastic relationship with the people in the Senate and Congress,” Trump said.
“I’m friends with most of them. I like and respect most of them, and I think they like and respect me. The Republican Party is very, very unified.”
Trump also commented on Bannon during a Cabinet meeting on Monday, saying that he sympathizes with the Breitbart News head’s attacks on Senate Republicans.
“There are some Republicans, frankly, that should be ashamed of themselves,” Trump said at the meeting. “So I can understand fully how Steve Bannon feels.”
Trump delivered remarks alongside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSenate advances public lands bill in late-night vote GOP senator to try to reverse requirement that Pentagon remove Confederate names from bases No, ‘blue states’ do not bail out ‘red states’ MORE (R-Ky.) following their Monday meeting. McConnell told reporters that he’ll be supporting GOP incumbents and will support candidates in open seats who will be viable general election candidates.
“Our operating approach will be to support our incumbents and in open seats, help nominate people who can actually win in November,” McConnell said. “That’s my approach and that’s how you keep a governing majority.”