Civil war: Trump rips Jeff Flake, Mark Kirk at meeting with Senate Republicans

Wasn’t this supposed to be a goodwill visit? Shake a few hands, charm the skeptics, unite the party. Right?

We’ve reached the point in this very bad marriage where it’s time to talk seriously of divorce. We tried to make it work — God knows, we’ve tried — but all we’re doing is making each other miserable. I don’t even mind if Ben Sasse et al. want to let Trump keep the GOP brand. Let anti-Trumpers switch to independent and be done with it.

When Flake stood up and introduced himself, Trump told him, “You’ve been very critical of me.”

“Yes, I’m the other senator from Arizona — the one who didn’t get captured — and I want to talk to you about statements like that,” Flake responded, according to two Republican officials…

Trump said at the meeting that he has yet to attack Flake hard but threatened to begin doing so. Flake stood up to Trump by urging him to stop attacking Mexicans. Trump predicted that Flake would lose his reelection, at which point Flake informed Trump that he was not on the ballot this year, the sources said…

Characterizing Kirk as a loser, Trump vowed that he would carry Illinois in the general election even though the state traditionally has been solidly Democratic in presidential contests. Kirk did not attend the meeting with Trump.

This makes two different shiny objects that Trump has handed the media during a news cycle that should be devoted entirely to Comey’s testimony on Hillary’s uncharged felony. All he had to do to placate Flake and other critics was say that the past is the past and he’s determined to spend the next four months making the case against Clinton. Instead we’ve got the Republican nominee threatening to attack a Republican senator on the stump — which will itself become yet another shiny object for the media — and insulting another guy who undoubtedly has many friends in the caucus. He also reportedly turned to Ben Sasse, the Senate’s most prominent #NeverTrumper, at one point and said, “You must want Hillary,” the usual charge thrown at conservatives who are voting third-party. Sasse’s reply, per a statement his office issued afterwards: “Mr. Sasse continues to believe that our country is in a bad place and, with these two candidates, this election remains a dumpster fire.” At least Sasse is reckoning with the reality of divorce. What’s the others’ excuse?

Trump met with House Republicans today too, incidentally. A quote from that meeting, when asked if he’d stand up for the Constitution as president: “I’ll stand up for Article Two, Article 12, you name it of the Constitution.” Not every House member was able to attend, though, alas:

Rep. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) told reporters he had “a longstanding appointment downtown.” Another member said he had to be at the doctor’s office and couldn’t make it. A third said he had a “breakfast meeting.” The member — who asked not to be named — then pulled out his schedule for Thursday morning. When he saw that there wasn’t any event on his schedule, the member took out a pen and wrote “Breakfast meeting” on it. “See, I have one!” he joked.

Trump supposedly told Republican senators in their meeting that he happens to know the names of two people Hillary is vetting for the Supreme Court, but he wouldn’t reveal those names — which, sure, sounds like a normal thing that a normal presidential candidate would say to his would-be congressional allies.

Here’s Trump from a few days ago insisting that he can win this election even without GOP unity. You know what? We’re going to end up testing that theory.