Sen. John McCain stood up in front of the media Tuesday night and compared President Donald Trump’s daily scandals to Watergate and Iran-Contra. And no one from the White House bothered to call up the Arizona Republican afterward and check in with him.
McCain said dryly Wednesday. The Trump White House has done essentially no damage control in the aftermath of reports that ousted FBI Director James Comey wrote a memo alleging that Trump tried to kill a probe into former national security adviser Michael Flynn.
No talking points have been distributed, and few reassurances have been given to Republicans, leaving frazzled and exhausted lawmakers to freelance their own response.
Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), whose job in leadership is to help Republicans formulate a message and conceivably defend a president of their own party, had received no outreach from the White House as of Wednesday afternoon.
“I’ve not heard that from them. I’ve heard nothing. I should, shouldn’t I? I’m not sure that there’s that level of organization,” Thune said. “For most people this is kind of: Formulate and express your own point of view if you want to.”
It’s a sharp break from past White Houses, which typically would coordinate responses to damaging leaks or negative news stories with key allies on Capitol Hill. And the lack of communication between both ends of Pennsylvania Avenue is compounded by the sheer magnitude and pace of the crises coming out of the White House on a daily basis.
“We get in this whirlwind,” said Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). “I think hearing all parties would be helpful.”
Vice President Mike Pence was scheduled to have dinner with lawmakers on Wednesday night, which would be one of the first opportunities for Republicans to question a top Trump official, according to sources familiar with the matter.
House leadership has also been given little guidance on how to defend Trump or what the White House would like GOP lawmakers to say, two people familiar with the matter said. Privately, some in Speaker Paul Ryan’s office have expressed concerns with the White House, one administration official said.