President Donald Trump, left, gestures as he walks with House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy of Calif., right, while leaving the U.S. Capitol in Washington after meeting with GOP leadership, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. Walking behind them is Stephen Miller, center, White House senior adviser. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Trump takes swipe at South Carolina's Sanford in GOP meeting

June 19, 2018 - 8:39 pm
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WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump took a dig at Rep. Mark Sanford, a South Carolina Republican who has been critical of the president, during a meeting with House Republicans on Tuesday night.

Trump told the lawmakers in a closed-door Capitol Hill meeting that he wanted to "congratulate Mark on a great race," according to two attendees. Another attendee said Trump's remarks elicited some boos from members of the House Freedom Caucus, a conservative group in the House.

The three attendees spoke on condition of anonymity to describe the private meeting focused on immigration. Sanford, a Freedom Caucus member, said he was unable to attend because his flight was delayed at the Charleston, South Carolina, airport.

"The president has his own style. You gotta give him credit. He's an equal opportunity insulter. He gets just about everybody," said Rep. Randy Weber, R-Texas.

Sanford lost his primary bid last week to South Carolina state Rep. Katie Arrington and blamed his defeat on Trump, who urged Republicans to dump the former South Carolina governor.

Trump tweeted on the day of the primary that the congressman had been unhelpful to him, adding, "He is better off in Argentina." That was a reference to Sanford's surprise disappearance from the state when he was governor, which he later revealed was to continue his affair with an Argentine woman.

Sanford had called Trump untrustworthy and culturally intolerant, prompting Arrington's primary challenge. The congressman later said support for Trump had become a litmus test in GOP primaries.

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Associated Press writers Lisa Mascaro and Matthew Daly contributed.

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