Appearing on CNN's State of the Union Sunday, Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) flatly stated that President Donald Trump sent Office of Management and Budget (OMB) director, Mick Mulvaney, to threaten him with a primary opponent if he didn't vote for the American Health Care Act (AHCA):
"He [Trump] sent as his emissary Mick Mulvaney, who I've known for a long time – he's from our state, and he's now the OMB director – he said: 'The president hopes you vote against this because he wants to run somebody against you if you do.'
I think that those kinds of threats are counterproductive; he's made those kinds of threats to any number of different members within the conference; and you know, it all, I guess, fits in love, war, and politics – but I don't think it's particularly productive to his own legislative agenda. We'll see what comes."
Host Dana Bash asked a follow up question:
"What does it say about his clout with Republicans like you that he threatened to run a primary challenger against you, and you still said: 'I'm gonna oppose this bill that you want me to support'? You're not scared of him, are you?"
"Well no, it's not that. It doesn't make anybody's day when the President of the United States says: 'I wanna take you out.' But what I would say is I don't work for him, I work for about 750,000 people here in the first congressional district.
I've had eight town hall meetings – I finished my eighth one just this week – over the last couple of months, and what I've heard from people at a level that I've never before heard in the world of politics is that people care deeply about this issue, it impacts them directly and very personally, and we better get it right. And the idea of checking the box saying: 'We dealt with healthcare,' but not taking into account both considerations to the left and the right on this one, I think, ultimately – not my job.
My job is to watch out for the folks that I'm hearing from here at home, and to induce conservative ideals that I ran on, and I'm trying to do just that."
As Bash noted, it was previously reported that President Trump threatened to primary those who wouldn't vote for the AHCA, but Sanford's account takes those reports up another level.
When one breaks down the president's alleged actions, they are quite unsettling.
A number of Representatives in the House Freedom Caucus (HFC) saw the AHCA, and were troubled by numerous aspects of the legislation. Namely, it failed to put into motion the full repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), on which Republicans had been campaigning for seven years, and instead, simply rearranged government subsidies and interventions into the health care system. These members decided collectively that they would not vote for such legislation.
President Trump, who campaigned on repealing Obamacare (though he praised socialized medicine on multiple occasions during his campaign), wanted the AHCA to pass the House despite its egregious flaws. When he learned that HFC members were standing on principle, as well as the promises they made to their constituents for more than half a decade, he proceeded (allegedly) to threaten them with primary opponents.
More than any other action, this behavior reveals Trump's true colors. He is not a conservative; he is not a Republican; he is not a principled man. He is a blind leader, groping for anything that would steady him.
This isn't to say that on occasion, Trump doesn't get things right. He does – and on those occasions, he should be praised. However, anyone expecting a righteous philosophy from the president will almost always be let down.
This may seem obvious, but many on the Right still believe that President Trump has a consistent philosophy that is friendly to conservatism.
He was set to punish the only members of the House that stood by their promises to the American people. That says it all.