President Trump stepped up his fight against a rebellious section of his own party Thursday, targeting the House Freedom Caucus in a series of tweets. The hardline conservatives "will hurt the entire Republican agenda if they don't get on the team, & fast. We must fight them, & Dems, in 2018!" he tweeted. He later called out caucus leader Rep. Mark Meadow by name, along with fellow members Rep. Jim Jordan and Rep. Raul Labrador, tweeting that if they "would get on board we would have both great healthcare and massive tax cuts & reform." A roundup of coverage:
- Trump is now "reaching for the stick" after the caucus rejected his "carrot" of concessions on health care, Politico reports. Caucus members say there have also been White House threats of primary challenges in 2018.
- In an op-ed at the New York Times, Rep. Adam Kinzinger accuses the Freedom Caucus of undermining the GOP and blames its refusal to compromise for the failure of the ObamaCare replacement. "We are the Charlie Brown party, hoping that this time, things will be different," the Republican writes. "But time and again, the Freedom Caucus is Lucy—pulling the ball out from under us, letting us take the fall and smiling to themselves for making a splash. It’s a cheap tactic, not a way to govern, and enough is enough."
- USA Today looks at the origin and membership of the Freedom Caucus. There are believed to be around 36 members, all men, but the caucus hasn't made the name of every member public.
- Caucus member Rep. Dave Brat says he is confused by Trump's attacks on the group, Breitbart reports. He says the caucus is actually trying to fulfill Trump's campaign promises—something he feels the American Health Care Act doesn't do. "I don't think he is hearing that we are trying to serve him a victory," Brat says. "Right now, this bill is at 17% in the polls, and that’s not a winner."
- Labrador also said he was on Trump's side. "Freedom Caucus stood with u when others ran," he tweeted. "Remember who your real friends are. We're trying to help u succeed."
- Other conservatives were angrier. They warned that Trump's attack on the group could end up alienating grassroots conservatives. "The man who promised to 'Drain the Swamp' now appears to be the 'Creature from the Black Lagoon,'" Tea Party Patriots co-founder Mark Meckler tells the Hill. "He is now on the side of the swamp monsters."
- The Atlantic looks at the expanding rift in the GOP, noting that tensions are growing amid suggestions the Trump administration could work with Democrats on health care.
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