Aug 9, 2020 - Politics & Policy

Ben Sasse emerges as GOP Trump critic ahead of November

Mike Allen
Ben Sasse
Sen. Ben Sasse walks to the Senate from the subway to vote in June. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call via Getty Images

Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) has dialed up his spicy slams of President Trump, including this swipe at yesterday's signing ceremony: "The pen-and-phone theory of executive lawmaking is unconstitutional slop."

Why it matters: Trump increasingly looks — to business and to fellow Republicans — like a loser in November. So they're more likely to create distance to save their own skins. Sasse also won his May primary, further freeing him.

Earlier, Sasse had this to say as the White House and Democratic leaders negotiated a new coronavirus rescue package:

The swamp should stop pretending there’s some thoughtful negotiation happening here. ... The White House is trying to solve bad polling by agreeing to indefensibly bad debt. This proposal is not targeted to fix precise problems — it's about Democrats and Trumpers competing to outspend each other.

After the Lafayette Square fracas, Sasse said: "I'm against clearing out a peaceful protest for a photo op that treats the Word of God as a political prop."

On intelligence about Russian bounties: "Number one, who knew what when? Did the commander in chief know and, if not, how the hell not? What is going on in our process?"

  • "And, number two, what are we gonna do to impose proportional cost in response? In a situation like this, that would mean Taliban and GRU [Russian military intelligence agency] body bags."

On Trump's plan to withdraw troops from Germany: " Chairman Xi and Vladimir Putin are reckless — and this withdrawal will only embolden them."

On a report Trump might withdraw troops from South Korea: "{This kind of strategic incompetence is Jimmy Carter-level weak."

Flashback ... Sasse in his maiden Senate speech in 2015: "Everything cannot be simply Republicans versus Democrats. ... I promise you that I plan to speak up when the next president of my party exceeds his or her proper powers."

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