The president previously said on Twitter that Ben Sasse was a RINO — "Republican in name only"

By Virginia Chamlee
October 16, 2020 12:33 PM
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Nebraska Sen. Ben Sasse
| Credit: Greg Nash-Pool/Getty

Sen. Ben Sasse slammed Donald Trump in a phone call with constituents this week, arguing the president's values are "deficient" and that he "kisses dictators' butts" while not lifting a finger for those who are in need of help.

The comments were made after a constituent asked the Nebraska Republican, "Why do you have to criticize [Trump] so much?”

Sasse, 48, didn't old back in his response, referencing Trump's comments on women, his unusually warm relationship with some authoritarian leaders and his hesitancy to denounce white supremacy.

"I've worked hard to develop a good relationship with him ... [but] there are obviously a lot of places where he and I differ," Sasse said in the call, a recording of which was obtained by The Washington Examiner. "The way he kisses dictators' butts ... The way he treats women and spends like a drunken sailor."

"He mocks evangelicals behind closed doors," Sasse continued. "His family has treated the presidency like a business opportunity. He's flirted with white supremacists."

Credit: ALEX EDELMAN/AFP via Getty

Sasse also criticized Trump's handling of the novel coronavirus pandemic, saying the president, 74, initially "refused to treat it seriously" and handled it like a "PR crisis rather than a multiyear public health challenge."

"I don't think the way he's led through COVID has been reasonable or responsible or right," he added.

(Trump has insisted that China is to blame for the global pandemic and said he downplayed the threat in public so as not to cause "panic.")

Sasse's remarks came in a telephone town-hall meeting on Wednesday, according to Sasse's communications director James Wegmann, who noted on Twitter that the remarks were not made privately, contrary to some reports.

Sasse has criticized the president publicly in the past. After Trump refused to commit to a peaceful transfer of power, Sasse told reporters the president "says crazy stuff."

The two have also butted heads over an executive order Trump signed in September, aimed at propping up the economy in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. After Sasse called the order "unconstitutional slop," Trump denounced him as a RINO ("Republican in name only") on Twitter.

Sasse isn't the only Republican lawmaker to disparage Trump. On Thursday, journalist Bob Woodward told CNN's Wolf Blitzer that he knows other Republican senators "who feel exactly the same way” but “have not yet been caught."

"[Sasse] got caught telling the truth," Woodward said.

Blitzer echoed those sentiments, saying he, too, had privately heard from GOP senators in regard to Trump.

Despite these public spats, Sasse has a history of voting in support of Trump in Congress.

"What I've heard from a whole bunch of Republicans who are refusing to go public in saying things like this — privately, they will say these things but they are afraid of the president," Blitzer said Thursday. "They don't want to say these things publicly."

"It really is almost a crime against every voter in this country, to not somehow break down that barrier," Woodward responded.