Updated at 3:37 p.m. ET
President Trump was met by a protester who threw Russian flags at him and chanted “Trump is treason!” as he arrived on Capitol Hill Tuesday to urge Senate Republicans to pass tax cuts.
While the president was entering the weekly GOP lunch on Capitol Hill, escorted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., a man appeared to have gotten inside the press scrum, throwing the small flags that had the word “TRUMP” emblazoned in gold.
“The president conspired with agents of the Russian government to steal an election,” yelled the man, who later identified himself as Ryan Clayton from Americans Take Action, before being escorted away by Capitol Police.
“We should be talking about treason in Congress, not about tax cuts,” Clayton screamed.
It was an odd diversion and disruption that followed a morning in which Trump sparred with Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in another Twitter feud that set the stage for what could be a tense meeting with Senate Republicans. Amid the kerfuffle with the protester, Trump ignored questions about the comments he had made earlier Tuesday about the retiring Tennessee senator, simply flashing a thumbs-up. Later, McConnell said he didn’t even notice the protester because the press was “hollering so loud.”
After the meeting, McConnell sidestepped questions about the tension between Trump and Corker, deriding it as “distractions” media was too interested in.
“I don’t have any observation about that,” the Senate GOP leader said. “We’re here to try to accomplish things for the American people. We’re all on the same page on the issues that I have mentioned, and of course, front and center is comprehensive tax reform.”
McConnell told reporters that in the meeting, Trump “went over all of the items that the administration’s been working on, much of which I agree with him the administration hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit for.”
On NBC’s Today Show, Corker had derided Trump’s entreaties as nothing more than a “photo op.” That seemed to bait the president into lashing out against Corker, who has been forceful in his denunciations of Trump ever since he announced he wouldn’t run for re-election.
Corker fired back quickly against the president, telling CNN that if he had it to do over, he wouldn’t endorse Trump again and said the president has “great difficulty with the truth.”
“I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, and debases our country in a way that he does, but he does,” Corker said.
The showdown had at least one senator jokingly anticipating another possible faceoff during the lunch between Trump and the senators, as Sen. Thom Tillis, R-N.C., walked into the meeting carrying a bag of popcorn.
However, Tillis may have been disappointed. Corker told reporters after the lunch that it was “uneventful” and that he didn’t talk with Trump. Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., called the meeting “great, very upbeat.”