Welcome to The Lid, your afternoon dose of the 2016 ethos…Nebraska senator and "Never Trump" leader Ben Sasse showed at Trump's meeting on Capitol Hill on Thursday, which we imagine the GOP nominee met with all the enthusiasm of a guy who runs into his girlfriend's ex at a restaurant right before he plans to propose.
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Okay, we understand that Congress is almost cartoonishly unpopular and that faith in political institutions is low. Donald Trump has certainly capitalized on that trend by winning over voters who agree with his assessment that the system is "rigged" by career politicians. But "running against Washington" isn't the same thing as using a meeting behind closed doors to single out individual members of your own party and root for their failure because they disagree with you. That appears to be what Trump did with Senate Republicans on Thursday, reportedly calling one embattled senator a "loser" and predicting the downfall of another (who is actually not up for reelection. #oops.) The two senators in question - Mark Kirk of Illinois and Jeff Flake of Arizona - haven't just vocally disagreed with Trump for the fun of it, they're also representing their constituents; Kirk hails from a deep blue state where Trump is deeply unpopular, and Flake represents a red state with a high Hispanic population. If Trump was to pull off a win in November, he'll need every Republican Senate and House member he can get on Capitol Hill. Instead, he's further dividing the party and driving away potential allies. It may work to rile up the anti-DC crowd in the short run, but it's very, very difficult to see how picking these fights is a long game.
POPPING ON NBC POLITICS
- NBC's Leigh Ann Caldwell has the definitive look at how Donald Trump emerged from decades of Republican tensions.
- Donald Trump had some tense moments on Capitol Hill today while meeting with GOP lawmakers.
- Ted Cruz has agreed to speak at the GOP convention following a one-on-one meeting with Trump.
- Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, a leading candidate to be Trump's VP pick, urged Cruz to back Trump, NBC's Vaughn Hillyard reports.
- Here's the NBC News cheat sheet for whom Clinton might choose as her running mate.
- FBI director James Comey appeared on Capitol Hill to explain and at times defend his decision not to recommend charges be brought against Hillary Clinton.
- And from First Read: Donald Trump can't stay on message, and it's a problem for the GOP.
FOR THE RECORD…
"I've had to go to the bathroom for about an hour"
FBI director James Comey during his lengthy testimony on Capitol HIll on Thursday
Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden hold a joint campaign event in Scranton, Pa.
Donald Trump will deliver a policy speech on "succeeding together" in Miami.