Republican Senator Ben Sasse slammed President Trump’s behavior in a town hall with constituents this week, saying that he “kisses dictators’ butts,” mishandled the coronavirus pandemic and spends “like a drunken sailor.”
A spokesperson for Sasse confirmed to CBS News that the senator had made these comments, which were first reported by the Washington Examiner.
When asked by a constituent why he was so frequently critical of Mr. Trump, the Nebraska senator said that the president initially “ignored COVID.”
“I don’t think the way he’s lead through COVID has been reasonable or responsible, or right,” Sasse said.
Sasse continued that Mr. Trump “kisses dictators’ butts,” citing how the president “ignores that the Uighurs are in literal concentration camps in Xinjiang” and “hasn’t lifted a finger on behalf of the Hong-Kongers.”
“The United States now regularly sells out our allies under his leadership, the way he treats women, spends like a drunken sailor. The ways I criticize President Obama for that kind of spending; I’ve criticized President Trump for as well. He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors. His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He’s flirted with white supremacists,” Sasse said.
Sasse, who is up for reelection, toned down his criticism of Mr. Trump ahead of the primary election earlier this year. Mr. Trump endorsed Sasse in the primary. However, as he won the primary and is expected to cruise to reelection, he has dialed up his criticism of the president again.
In a statement to CBS News, Sasse’s spokesperson said that the media should focus on the race for control of the Senate.
“I don’t know how many more times we can shout this: Even though the Beltway is obsessing exclusively about the presidential race, control of the Senate is ten times more important. The fragile Senate seats that will determine whether Democrats nuke the Senate are the races Ben cares about, the races he’s working on, and the only races he’s talking about,” the spokesperson said.
Sasse, who is on the Senate Judiciary Committee, spoke frequently about the importance of civic responsibility during the confirmation hearings for Judge Amy Coney Barrett this week. Sasse is considered a potential contender for the Republican nomination in the 2024 presidential election.
Eleanor Watson contributed to this report.