Former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid sounds like he couldn’t have handled government shutdown negotiations much differently than his onetime colleagues in congressional Democratic leadership.
“You can’t legislate when you have a chief executive who’s weird, for lack of a better description,” the former Nevada senator told The New York Times Magazine, referring to President Donald Trump’s insistence on getting $5 billion for a southern border wall and his rejection of a stopgap spending bill that would have averted a shutdown that left government workers without the assurance of future paychecks just before Christmas.
“I think he’s a person who is oblivious to the real world,” Reid said of the president.
Reid has been biting in his criticism of Trump in the past, but in his more recent comments, he hypothesized why the president is difficult to negotiate with.
“Trump is an interesting person. He is not immoral but is amoral. Amoral is when you shoot someone in the head, it doesn’t make a difference. No conscience,” he said.
“He’ll lie. He’ll cheat,” Reid continued. “You can’t reason with him.”
Reid summarized his assessment by saying, “I think he is without question the worst president we’ve ever had.”
Reid withheld criticizing his former colleagues in the Senate Democratic Conference, but according to The New York Times Magazine, he has privately signaled disapproval of his successor as party leader in the chamber, Charles E. Schumer, for his apparent willingness to offer concessions to Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
But Reid told the magazine he did not want to be seen as criticizing the New York Democrat’s choices.
“My personal feeling should have nothing to do with it,” he said, adding that the two men speak infrequently.
Outgoing Sen. Claire McCaskill speculated that Reid would have been an inflexible opponent to Trump.
“No one would enjoy the fight with Trump like Harry Reid would,” the Missouri Democrat said. “Harry would smell the weakness and say, ‘Damn the consequences.’”
Meanwhile, a spokesman for Schumer told the magazine the senator and his predecessor “have different styles but they complemented each other well. They are still good friends and talk regularly.”
Watch: 2018 in 5 Minutes — the Best of Congressional Hits and Misses