U.S. Sen. Richard Burr Thursday downplayed President Donald Trump’s criticism of fellow Republicans, which mounted with fresh attacks on U.S. Sens. Lindsey Graham and Jeff Flake.
The attacks came on the heels of Trump’s comments on Saturday’s violence in Charlottesville and after critical tweets about Senate GOP leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky.
“One, I don’t think these tweets are the first towards members of Congress,” Burr told the Observer. “This is not the first administration that has tried to minimize the role of Congress.
“At the end of the day, to legislate or to appropriate it doesn’t really matter who the president is. The administration will have to come back to Congress to do that. And I’m confident that … the Congress will make a decision based upon what they feel is the right way forward.”
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Burr spoke after a private meeting at the City Club with members of the Charlotte Economics Club.
Earlier Thursday, the president tweeted that “Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham” had wrongly said Trump equated Saturday’s white supremacists with those protesting them. Many observers believe Trump did just that.
“Such a disgusting lie,” Trump tweeted. “He just can’t forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember!”
Later Thursday, Trump tweeted support for the primary opponent of Arizona Jeff Flake. He said Flake is “WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!”
Graham responded with a statement.
“Mr. President … the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country,” he said. “For the sake of our Nation – as our President – please fix this.”
On Thursday, Trump reiterated his support for Confederate memorials in three tweets.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You ... can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish! Also ... the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!” the president wrote in a series of tweets.
On Wednesday Burr called Trump’s comments on Charlottesville “misguided.” On Thursday he said Trump, “should have been much more forceful in his original comments.”
“And I think the president needs to be conscious of bringing Americans together, not necessarily fueling the division.”
Asked if he’s disappointed in the president, Burr pointed to his accomplishments.
“The president has stayed focused on the things he’s made as campaign promises. He has cut government regulation … He has continued to grow the economy…
“You know, his plate had three big issues. Health care. taxes and infrastructure. … I can never remember an administration accomplishing more than one big issue in a calendar year.”