Donald Trump will come face to face with one of his most vocal Senate critics Thursday, as other top GOP senators indicated they would be no-shows at their caucus’ meeting with the presumptive Republican nominee.
Sen. Ben Sasse has been one of the few GOP senators who has said he will not vote for Trump as he believes the billionaire real estate mogul is not a true conservative. The Nebraska Republican told Roll Call that he planned to attend the Thursday morning meeting between Trump and Senate Republicans.
“I’m planning to listen,” Sasse said, “But I’m particularly interested in his views on executive restraint.”
Sasse raised questions in December about whether Congress would rein in a hypothetical President Trump. Sasse has since been a vocal Trump critic, and was even touted as a potential third party option, though he said he does not plan to run for president .
It’s not clear which other Republicans will question Trump at their meeting. Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who has also been critical of the nominee, said Wednesday that he did not know there was a meeting. Former presidential hopeful, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz, who called Trump a “pathological liar,” declined to say Wednesday whether he would attend the meeting.
South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, who endorsed Sen. Marco Rubio for president, said there was a possibility some senators would bring up Trump’s tone and rhetoric. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia raised similar concerns when the businessman met with GOP leadership in May.
Some of the most vulnerable Republican incumbents will not be attending the meeting. Sen. Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire said she has an Armed Services hearing at the same time. Rob Portman of Ohio said he had to check his schedule.
Rubio said he would be presiding over the Senate at the same time as the meeting, but vaguely referenced his clashes with Trump on the campaign trail.
“Of all the people in that room, I’m quite familiar with his position on a number of issues,” he said.