Republican senators lash out at each other inside private luncheon

Heated confrontations erupted inside a Senate Republican luncheon on Wednesday as lawmakers traded unusually personal and sometimes profane attacks on one another.


Heated confrontations erupted inside a Senate Republican luncheon on Wednesday as lawmakers traded unusually personal and sometimes profane attacks on one another. 

At the center of the ruckus was Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., who argued separately with Sens. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Bob Corker, R-Tenn., according to a person who attended the lunch and another who was briefed on it. 

Graham, a traditional Republican hawk, took issue with an amendment Lee was pushing to the annual defense bill. His measure was designed to protect Americans from detention without charge or trial. 

According to the person who attended the lunch, Graham accused Lee of pressing for the amendment raise money, prompting the normally polite and low-key senator to snap back at him. 

"Like hell I'm doing that!" Lee responded. 

Graham later apologized to Lee, and Lee accepted. The Mormon senator told Graham that if he drank beer, he'd take him out for one. 

But the fireworks didn't end there. Later, Graham and Corker got into an expletive-laced exchange, the people familiar with the lunch discussion said. 

Graham pointed out that Corker was on his way out, a reference to his upcoming retirement from the Senate, and he argued that Corker was not helping the Republican Party. 

Corker, who has been one of the GOP's most outspoken Trump critics, vented frustration with his colleagues Tuesday for being afraid to "poke the bear" and challenge the president by voting on an amendment to grant Congress more authority over tariffs. 

"It's becoming a cultish thing, isn't it?" Corker told reporters Wednesday morning. 

Corker told reporters Wednesday afternoon that the conversation at lunch was "very good." 

Before the lunch, Graham said that Republicans need to "add value" when they speak out against the president. 

"You've got to show that if you criticize him, fine. But, you know, be able to add value to his agenda," he said. 

Wednesday's lunch started with a discussion about rescission — the process of paring back previously allocated government spending — and featured White House budget director Mick Mulvaney. 

In devolving later into a fight over amendments, the Republican senators were doing what Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., had urged against. 

Representatives for the senators did not comment on the details of the lunch. The people describing the lunch spoke on the condition of anonymity to talk more candidly about a private gathering.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Politics

Springboro to add 6 new police officers over next 2 years
Springboro to add 6 new police officers over next 2 years

By the end of 2020, six new police officers should be patrolling Springboro. On Thursday night, Springboro City Council supported the staffing increases called for by Police Chief Jeff Kruithoff and expected to add about $400,000 to the city budget in 2020. “These are all things we can afford,” City Manager Chris Pozzuto said during a presentation...
Attorney says she talked to woman who made claim against Sherrod Brown 
Attorney says she talked to woman who made claim against Sherrod Brown 

A Canton attorney says she has talked to a woman who alleges U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, “roughly” pushed her against a wall while making a sexual advance after he was divorced in the late 1980s. The attorney, Laura Mills, is a managing partner in the Canton law firm Mills, Mills, Fiely & Lucas.   Mills would not identify...
Warren County jail costs increase as project moves forward
Warren County jail costs increase as project moves forward

Warren County commissioners rejected the idea of building a roundabout at a key intersection in the government complex in Lebanon, but otherwise sent consultants back to work on final drawings for a new county jail and sheriff’s office. “It’s been more than 15 years coming,” Commissioner Dave Young said after the meeting. During...
8th Congressional District debate at Miami-Hamilton this week: How to go
8th Congressional District debate at Miami-Hamilton this week: How to go

Miami University Regionals and the Journal-News will host the 8th Congressional District debate this week in Hamilton. The representative to the 8th Congressional District will represent all of Butler, Clark, Darke, Miami and Preble counties, and the southernmost portion of Mercer County.  Here’s what you need to know if you go: Miami University...
Democrats outraising Republicans in some key races
Democrats outraising Republicans in some key races

Six Democratic challengers outraised Ohio Republican U.S. House members last quarter, including one who raised more than three times the amount of the senior Republican in the state’s House delegation. With weeks to go until Election Day, Democrats Aftab Pureval, Danny O’Connor, Ken Harbaugh, Janet Garrett, Betsy Rader and Theresa Gasper...
More Stories