Those comments astonished some in the White House since, in their view, congressional Republicans had seven years to prepare for repeal of the health care law. To them, it was the Senate that couldn’t deliver when its moment of truth arrived.
“You can see the president’s tweets,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders, the White House spokeswoman, told reporters on Thursday in Bedminster, N.J., where Mr. Trump is staying at his golf resort. “Obviously, there’s some frustration.”
There certainly was in the mind of Mr. Trump, who spent two days taunting Mr. McConnell over Twitter before stopping just short of calling for him to step aside — for now. He encouraged reporters to revisit that question if Mr. McConnell fails to repeal the health care law, enact tax cuts and send a major infrastructure bill to the president’s desk.
Mr. McConnell, refraining from throwing more fuel on the fire he started, has issued no official response to the Twitter barrage, a political assault made even more complicated by the fact that his wife, Elaine Chao, serves as secretary of transportation in Mr. Trump’s cabinet.
Others familiar with Mr. McConnell’s thinking said his initial comments were aimed at deterring the White House from setting hard goals for passing tax cuts and establishing a timeline that might be impossible to meet. The fear is that Republicans will again get pummeled if they come up short.
Republicans note that they have very little margin for error with just 52 seats in the Senate, and even that number depends on the availability of Senator John McCain, Republican of Arizona, who is being treated for brain cancer. Some also point out that Mr. Trump bears some responsibility for the health care debacle since his hammering of Senator Lisa Murkowski, Republican of Alaska, helped alienate her. Plus, there was his past derision of Mr. McCain, who joined Ms. Murkowski and Senator Susan Collins, Republican of Maine, in stalling Mr. McConnell’s push for…