President Donald Trump mocked a pair of MSNBC hosts during an early morning Twitter barrage on Thursday, and Democrats and Republicans in Washington reacted with swift condemnation.
Trump insulted the intelligence and appearance of “Morning Joe” hosts Joe Scarborough, a former Florida Republican congressman, and Mika Brzezinski, calling the pair “crazy” and “low I.Q.”
“I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me [don’t watch anymore],” Trump tweeted. “Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
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A slew of well-known Republicans, including Miami Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, sharply criticized the president.
“Let’s all remember the lessons from the Congressional shooting just a couple weeks ago,” Curbelo said in a tweet. “We must treat one another with decency & respect.”
Ros-Lehtinen went one step further, saying that Trump’s tweets make it harder for the White House to pursue its policy goals like repealing Obamacare because they alienate women like Maine Sen. Susan Collins, a moderate who is crucial to passing any repeal of Obamacare.
“There are so many important issues confronting our nation that merit the full attention of our President so it is a shame that on the very week that we are debating health care, he alienates Senators, like Susan Collins, whose votes he needs for passage,” Ros-Lehtinen said in a statement. “Pettiness and meanness are uncalled for from the most powerful leader of the free world.”
Curbelo and Ros-Lehtinen did not support Trump during the 2016 election.
Despite the backlash, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders doubled down on the president’s incendiary remarks during Thursday’s press briefing.
“The president has been attacked mercilessly,” Sanders said. “When he gets attacked, he’s going to hit back. Americans knew what they were getting when they elected Donald Trump.”
Trump used to be friendly with Scarborough and Brzezinski, who said Trump offered to marry them in the White House or Mar-a-Lago during a meal with the president in January. The pair announced their engagement in May.
Scarborough and Brzezinski have been critical of Trump on their popular morning show lately, and Trump is known to respond via Twitter to what he witnesses on television.
Brzezinski fired back at Trump, also on Twitter, referencing a line of attack used by Sen. Marco Rubio in the GOP primary, mocking Trump’s supposedly small hands. The MSNBC anchor posted a picture of a Cheerios cereal box with the slogan “made for little hands” on the back.
Rubio and Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, the two Miami Republicans in Congress who supported Trump in 2016, both said they did not see his tweet.
Rubio told reporters he had not seen Trump’s tweet because he was in a classified briefing.
Diaz-Balart also said a busy day on Capitol Hill kept him from seeing the tweets.
“I was literally in markups all day,” Diaz-Balart said. “I saw something but I didn’t even read them. I didn’t really see them.”
Curbelo continued his opposition on Twitter, saying Trump’s rhetoric can lead to dangerous acts because “personal attacks & character assassination yield a culture of social & political violence in which people can become radicalized & dangerous.”