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Trump Calls Meeting With Republican Senators A "Love Fest"

Following the meeting, two Republican senators harshly criticized the president, with Sen. Jeff Flake delivering a speech on the Senate floor saying he could not be "complicit or silent."

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Early Wednesday, President Trump tweeted that his closed-door lunch with Senate Republicans the day before was a "love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!"

Senators had described the meeting to BuzzFeed News as "pleasant" and lacking in "fireworks," and the goodwill it was meant to foster evaporated throughout the day as Trump sparred with Republican Senators Jeff Flake of Arizona and Bob Corker of Tennessee.

The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!

Both Corker and Flake harshly criticized the president's policies and conduct Tuesday, with Corker saying Trump was "debasing our nation." Neither Senator is seeking reelection.

"I think many of us, me included, have tried to, you know, intervene, and I have had a private dinner and have been with him on multiple occasions to try and create some kind of aspirational approach, if you will, to the way that he conducts himself," Corker said in an interview with CNN Tuesday. "I don't think that that's possible. He's obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president."

Wednesday evening, Sen. Flake announced his decision not to seek reelection in a scorching speech on the Senate floor, in which he said he "could not condone" his party's actions.

"None of this is normal. And what do we, as United States senators, have to say about it?" Flake said. “I have children and grandchildren to answer to and so ... I will not be complicit or silent.”

Trump addressed both Senators in Wednesday morning tweets, saying they were acting "hurt & wounded."

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The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!

Jeff Flake, with an 18% approval rating in Arizona, said "a lot of my colleagues have spoken out." Really, they just gave me a standing O!

Trump disputed Flake's statements that many of his Republican colleagues had spoken out against the president and said they had just given him a "standing O!"

When asked by reporters whether Republican senators had been applauding something in particular at the closed-door lunch Tuesday, Republican Sen. John Kennedy of Louisiana said the reaction was "just because he was the president."

Cora Lewis is a business reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York. Lewis reports on labor.

Contact Cora Lewis at cora.lewis@buzzfeed.com.

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