President Trump is annoyed with several Republican senators doing things he believes might damage him, like working on legislation to sanction Russia, and he called two of them to privately vent his frustrations, several people familiar with his conversations told Politico.
In late July, Trump called Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) and tried to convince him that the bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia was bad policy and unconstitutional, three people with knowledge of the call told Politico, but Corker made it known the bill would pass and there wasn't anything Trump could do about it. On Aug. 7, Trump rang Sen. Thom Tillis (R-N.C.), who is working with Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) on a bill that aims to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller should Trump attempt to fire him, one person familiar with the call told Politico. Trump let Tillis know he wasn't happy about the legislation, and didn't want it to pass.
One senior GOP aide told Politico it seems Trump is "just always focused on Russia," but it's now going to be a lot harder for him to make surprise phone calls to Republican senators — senior administration officials said John Kelly, Trump's new chief of staff, has been trying to get a handle on the president's impromptu calls with legislators by requesting that senior White House aides be notified and present for all conversations.