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McConnell Guards GOP Incumbents Amid Reports Of Trump Rift

Sen. Mitch McConnell is reportedly scheduled to attend a fundraiser in Kentucky for three fellow Republican senators – two of whom have been targeted by the Trump White House. The sharp contrast in approaches appears to be ratcheting up tensions between the West Wing and the Republican leader.

Media outlets report the majority leader is set to appear at a $1,000-per-person dinner Friday benefiting several senators including Arizona’s Jeff Flake and Nevada’s Dean Heller, both of whom are facing Trump-inspired primary challenges. While the event was planned before Flake found himself in the crosshairs, it takes on new overtones as the president ramps up his rhetoric on McConnell’s colleagues.

"Nobody wants me to talk about your other senator, who is weak on borders, weak on crime," Trump said, referencing Flake before a Tuesday rally in Phoenix. "So I won't talk about him."

The New York Times reports private feuds between Trump and the GOP leader are becoming increasingly public, with the president threatening to “oppose Republican senators who cross him, and Mr. McConnell mobilizing in their defense.”

The turmoil come as Congress must approve new spending measures and take action on the nation’s debt ceiling. At an event in Louisville Monday, McConnell said there is “zero chance” Congress will allow the country to default on its debt.

Reacting to reports of radio silence between himself and president, the veteran GOP lawmaker issued a statement Wednesday saying he and his team were in "regular contact" with Trump and work continues on "shared goals" such as taxes and infrastructure."We have a lot of work ahead of us, and we are committed to advancing our shared agenda together and anyone who suggests otherwise is clearly not part of the conversation," McConnell said.

Copyright 2017 WUKY

Josh James fell in love with college radio at Western Kentucky University's student station, New Rock 92 (now known as Revolution 91.7). After working as a DJ and Program Director, he knew he wanted to come home to Lexington and try his hand in public radio.