Sasse blasts tariffs but insists he has good relationship with Trump

Nebraska Republican Sen. Ben Sasse has a blunt assessment of President Donald Trump’s new tariff plan: “It’s really, really dumb.”

And he said he told the President so.

“This is a really stupid policy that’s going to hurt American consumers and hurt American workers,” Sasse told reporters Thursday in the Capitol shortly before Trump announced he would impose tariffs on some imported aluminum and steel. “If the administration goes through with this policy this policy will kill American jobs, lots of them.”

The freshman Republican senator — a frequent and sharp-tongued critic of Trump — said the Nebraskans he represents could suffer greatly because the products they grow and sell around the world might face stiff levies in return.

Sasse is one of a handful of GOP senators who are routinely critical of Trump, unafraid to publicly challenge the President’s policies and unconventional style. However, Sasse typically delivers those salvos from the safe distance of Twitter or in press statements emailed by his office.

But Sasse acknowledged he actually takes his gripes directly to the President before going public.

“The reality is, I have a surprisingly good relationship with the President because I actually wrestle with him. I don’t just go there and kiss the ring,” Sasse said. “We have arguments but I almost always talk to him in private before I criticize him in public.”

Sasse was asked if he speaks as bluntly in private with Trump as he does in public.

“He has a hard job and I treat him respectfully,” Sasse said. “But I think adults should argue about ideas.”