Rep. Dave Brat (R-VA) said Thursday that, eight months into Donald Trump’s presidency, “the swamp is in full control.”
Brat, a member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, made the comment to MSNBC’s Chuck Todd by way of expressing his frustration at Trump’s recent dealing with congressional Democrats. Bending to their demands on Wednesday, Trump agreed to sign a short-term debt ceiling increase bundled together with hurricane relief and a government funding bill. Republicans were incensed.
Brat said of the deal: “We obviously don’t like the Dec. 15 date. I think everybody in the whole country knows when you have a fiscal cliff and a huge budget deal and the kitchen sink being thrown in by both sides over the last 10 years, nothing good comes of it in terms of fiscal responsibility.”
“In May you said something interesting,” Todd told Brat later in the interview. “You said this to the President: ‘He’s learning the politics up here.’ Well, what do you think he’s learned now?”
“The swamp is in full control as far as we’re all concerned, right?” Brat replied.
“Is the President part of the swamp now?” Todd asked. “Is that what you believe?”
“No, he couldn’t get what he wanted done,” Brat explained. “All of us Republicans ran on repealing Obamacare. We promised it for seven years, voted on if for 50 times and it didn’t happen.”
Trump’s relationship with Republican leadership in Congress has reportedly soured in recent months, a product of his frustration at slow-moving Republican legislative priorities. He pledged during the 2016 to “drain the swamp” of Washington, D.C., though his own administration has been a tangled web of ethics violations.
“So you don’t blame him for being frustrated and saying ‘Why should I trust the Republican leadership, they couldn’t deliver, so I’m going to work with these guys?’” Todd asked.
“No, I wouldn’t go that far, but I’m saying the swamp is winning,” Brat said.
Later in the interview, the congressman emphasized one thing that would win Republicans back to Trump’s side: Changing the tax code. For Trump and nearly every Republican in Congress, top on the list of “reforms” is slashing top corporate tax rates.
“If we get taxes through, everyone is going to be happy again,” Brat said. “America is great again and everyone will be happy.”