No they didn’t, and logic would tell you that even if eyewitnesses who were in the room didn’t. It’s deeply weird that he would mock a political opponent whose career he’d ended in front of his colleagues; that might have been considered poor form even if Sanford were a member of the other party. It’s even weirder that he’d double down on the error in judgment by acknowledging publicly that he did it and insisting that the reaction was positive when there were various reports last night to the contrary.
Had a great meeting with the House GOP last night at the Capitol. They applauded and laughed loudly when I mentioned my experience with Mark Sanford. I have never been a fan of his!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 20, 2018
He’s referring to this account of last night’s meeting with the House GOP on immigration:
Trump: “Is Mark Sanford here? I just want to congratulate him on running a great race.”
Room goes silent. Trump then called him a nasty guy and the room booed, a bit.
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 19, 2018
Trump hates Sanford because Sanford disdains him but the South Carolinian is respected (especially among his Freedom Caucus colleagues) as a serious fiscal conservative, his embarrassing scandal from years ago aside. Even if he weren’t well-liked, go figure that congressmen wouldn’t warm to the idea of a more powerful politician dunking on the misfortunes of one of their own in front of them. No doubt some feel sympathy for Sanford and privately even agree with his criticism of Trump. Beyond that, vindictiveness is bad optics in politics, even in the moments after a tough election. That’s why most concession speeches are cordial towards the victor. And no member of Congress, particularly a Republican, would want to egg Trump on in the idea that it’s good for him to settle scores with his critics by endorsing their primary opponents. They might be next. They’d want to discourage him from enjoying Sanford’s demise for obvious reasons.
So they did.
— Justin Amash (@justinamash) June 20, 2018
A top aide to a Freedom Caucus member texted me after the conference about it. "What he did to Mark Sanford was sad. It reminded me of a sports fanbase that is used to losing, finally wins something, and reminds everyone that they won. Act like you've been there."
— Elaina Plott (@elainaplott) June 20, 2018
Michigan Rep. Justin Amash — who was in the room — says the president is not being truthful.
his recollection lines up with the 15-plus people i spoke to about the session last night. https://t.co/trNOv1E52Q
— Jake Sherman (@JakeSherman) June 20, 2018
Can’t trust a libertarian Trump critic and Sanford pal like Amash, right? Can’t trust those MSM reporters either. Can we trust a guy from Fox News, at least?
Several Hse GOPers have expressed to Fox their disgust with the President taking a potshot at GOP SC Rep Sanford last night. “It was ridiculous,” said one member of the Freedom Caucus. “It cost him votes (on the immigration bill).”
— Chad Pergram (@ChadPergram) June 20, 2018
It cost him votes. Coincidentally, Freedom Caucus chief Mark Meadows was seen heatedly arguing with Paul Ryan about the GOP’s two immigration bills today, both of which are now reportedly in trouble. The most baffling thing about Trump dunking on Sanders is that, at best, it’s harmless error. He won’t lose any friends in the caucus over it but certainly won’t gain any new ones either. At worst, he’s pissed off enough Freedom Caucusers — normally a friendly group — that his task in getting to 218 going forward will be that much harder. “I was very upset. It was very unnecessary and as far as I’m concerned, it was very rude,” said Walter Jones to the Hill. “To make light of Mark Sanford is very unacceptable.” Terrific.
Here’s the man himself, getting his two cents in.