Trump is misleading people about his past support for Republican Sen. James Lankford.
Trump endorsed Lankford in 2022, but he's trying to distance himself from him now.
Lankford was the lead Republican negotiator for a bipartisan immigration-Ukraine deal that Trump loathes.
Former President Donald Trump took aim at Republican Sen. James Lankford on Monday, falsely claiming he did not previously back the Oklahoman amid a torrent of criticism directed at the bipartisan Ukraine-immigration deal.
"Just to correct the record, I did not endorse Senator Lankford. I didn't do it. He ran and I did not endorse him, so I'm sure your person will be happy to hear that," Trump told conservative radio host Dan Bongino when asked about his past support of Lankford.
Donald Trump slams lead GOP Senate border deal negotiator Sen. James Lankford (R-OK) on Dan Bongino’s radio show:
“This is a very bad bill for his career … This is crazy. This is lunacy, this bill. And you know what it is? It’s a gift to Democrats.” pic.twitter.com/8eEgpPvoyA
— The Recount (@therecount) February 5, 2024
Trump is blatantly misleading if not outright lying about his past with Lankford. Lankford has become a target in conservative media over his position as the lead Republican negotiator in bipartisan talks that have resulted in a $118 billion bill that would impose tougher immigration policies, fund Ukraine and Israel's defense, and strengthen the Asia Pacific against China. Trump and House Speaker Mike Johnson are staunchly against the bill. Bongino said that "careers should end" over the legislation.
"I think this is a very bad bill for his career and especially in Oklahoma," Trump told Bongino.
Trump did endorse Lankford in 2022. Local media reports say the former president called the senator "strong on the Border, Tough on Crime, and Very Smart on the economy." Lankford has faced only nominal primary opposition since winning a special election in 2014 to represent Oklahoma, replacing the retiring Sen. Tom Coburn. Lankford, then a two-term congressman, benefited far more from Coburn's backing at the time than he ever has from Trump's support.
"They are great people. They are not going to be happy about this. Nobody is going to be happy about this," the former president said Monday. "But the people in Oklahoma are, you know, they are serious MAGA, they are serious people — they are not going to be happy about this, Dan, when they see this. This is crazy."
A former Baptist youth camp director, Lankford is a staunch conservative who largely stays out of the daily news cycle. As a result, he has some relationships with Democratic colleagues. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell values his voice so much that he asked Lankford to lead the immigration-Ukraine talks.
Lankford even apologized to Tulsa's Black residents in 2021 after some Oklahomans questioned his commitment to racial reconciliation. The Republican faced questions over his support for a commission to review unsubstantiated claims of election fraud that could have overturned a state's results. Lankford was not among the eight Senate Republicans that later voted to overturn either Pennsylvania or Arizona or both state's election results.
Lankford said he was unsure why Trump was going after him. The Republican lawmaker did state emphatically that the situation would be better right now if Trump was still in office.
"I don't know, obviously, other than he has a different job than I have right now," Lankford told CNN's Jake Tapper when asked about why Trump is attacking him. "His job right now is running for president. And so, he's trying to be able to manage that, and, obviously, a chaotic border is helpful to him in the process on that."
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