Speed Reads

an offer he can't refuse

President Trump reportedly threatened to run a primary challenger against a mutinous Freedom Caucus member

On Thursday, President Trump broadly threatened to run primary challengers against members of the House Freedom Caucus after the ultra-conservative faction put the breaks on the GOP health-care bill last week, claiming it was too similar to ObamaCare. But Trump has apparently threatened specific individuals too, according to Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.).

Sanford told The Post and Courier that Trump sent Sanford's friend, White House budget chief Mick Mulvaney, to deliver the message: "The president asked me to look you square in the eyes and to say that he hoped that you voted 'no' on this bill so he could run [a primary challenger] against you in 2018," Sanford claimed Mulvaney told him. Mulvaney had allegedly not wanted to deliver the message but Trump insisted.

"I mentioned this to a couple of colleagues and they said it sounds very Godfather-ish," Sanford noted. "Their point was that this approach might work in New Jersey, but it probably doesn't work so well in South Carolina." Sanford quoted the South Carolina Republican Creed in response to Trump's threat: "I will never cower before any master, save by God."

Sanford has long been a vocal critic of Trump, slamming him on everything from his refusal to release his tax returns to his baseless allegations of widespread voter fraud. But while Sanford claims he has "nothing" against the president, he added: "I've never had anyone, over my time in politics, put [the threat of a primary challenge] to me as directly as that."

The Post and Courier suggested Sanford might "perhaps [be] understating just how monumental it is for a sitting president to openly go after members of his own party."