U.S. Sanctions Chinese, Russians for Illicit Trade With North Korea

The Trump administration on Tuesday slapped economic sanctions on 10 Chinese and Russian companies and six people for covertly assisting North Korea's nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Treasury Department announcement said the sanctions were imposed "in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction, violations of United Nations Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions."

The sanctions represent the first time the U.S. government has cracked down on Chinese and Russian firms that have been facilitating North Korea's development of nuclear arms and long-range missiles.

"Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system," said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

"It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region," he said in a statement. "We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future."

The sanctions call for blocking all property and interests of the designated companies and people while prohibiting American banks from working with those sanctioned.

The action was taken in support of the latest UN Security Council Resolution 2371, passed Aug. 5, in response to North Korean missile tests and nuclear development.

The sanctions for the first time reveal in detail how North Korea has used companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to evade decades of economic sanctions.

Rep. Robert Pittenger (R., N.C.), who has sponsored legislation designed to punish companies that support North Korea, praised the new sanctions.

"For far too long, China has enabled North Korea to pursue nuclear development, cyber warfare, global provocation, and egregious human rights violations. Russia has also not been a good faith partner on these issues," said Pittenger, vice chairman of the financial services subcommittee on terrorism and illicit finance.

"The status quo is no longer acceptable," he said in a statement. "President Trump’s decisive action, coupled with my legislation to further punish businesses which support North Korean cyber attacks, sends a strong message. If you support the brutal North Korean regime, there will be a punitive response from the United States."

Notably absent from the latest U.S. sanctions is the China Aerospace Science & Industry Corporation (CASIC). CASIC's Sanjiang Special Vehicle Corporation has been linked to production of the missile transporter erector launchers used in North Korea's new long-range mobile missile, the Hwasong-14, as well as other mobile missiles.
"It is surreal that both the Obama and Trump administrations can't bring themselves to sanction the most obvious Chinese missile technology proliferator to North Korea," said Rick Fisher, a China military expert with the International Assessment and Strategy Center.

The North Korean activities involve the use of front companies and sales of coal by North Korea to purchase technology and other goods for the weapons programs.

In China, the Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co. Ltd. was sanctioned for purchasing vanadium ore from North Korea's Korea Kumsan Trading Corp. The sale of the metal ore was banned under UN Security Council Resolution 2270, imposed after a nuclear test in January 2016.

Kumsan Trading is linked to the General Bureau of Atomic Energy that is in charge of the North Korean nuclear program.

The Chinese firm Mingzheng International Trading Limited also was sanctioned for operating as a front company for the Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), North Korea's primary foreign exchange bank. Mingzheng provided North Korea with financial services, including U.S. dollar transactions in violation of U.N. sanctions.

FTB was first sanctioned in 2013 for conducting financial transactions on behalf of North Korea's arms proliferation activities, including on behalf of the Korea Mining Development Corp. and Korea Kwangson Banking Corporation.

In June, Mingzheng’s owner, Sun Wei, was sanctioned by Treasury.

In Russia, Treasury sanctioned the company called Gefest-M LLC and its director Ruben Kirakosyan for supporting the North Korean company Tangun Trading Corp., also known as Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corp., that is linked to the Second Academy of Natural Sciences, which is involved in developing weapons of mass destruction and missiles.

The Moscow-based Gefest-M took part in procuring metals from Tangun.

According to the Treasury announcement, North Korea funds its nuclear and ballistic missile programs through sales of mining resources abroad, mainly sales of coal.

Coal sales have generated over $1 billion a year for North Korea, which prompted the UN Security Council to ban purchases of North Korean coal, in part last year and earlier this month in total.

Three Chinese coal companies were sanctioned on Tuesday for purchasing nearly $500 million worth of coal between 2013 and 2016. The companies were identified as Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Materials Co. Ltd., JinHou International Holding Co. Ltd., and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co. Ltd.

The companies' transactions "may have benefitted the nuclear or ballistic missile programs of the government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea," the department said.

JinHou and Dandong Tianfu also were sanctioned for mining that benefited the North Korean economy. Zhicheng helped Pyongyang in the import, export, and transport of steel and anthracite coal, and also worked with other sanctioned firms, including Koryo Credit Development Bank and Korea Ocean Shipping Agency.

Zhicheng was linked to purchasing nuclear and missile components for North Korea and the company's director and majority owner, Chi Yupeng, was sanctioned.

"Chi Yupeng has used a network of companies to engage in bulk purchases, wire transfers, and other transactions on behalf of North Korean interests," the statement said, noting the transactions violated UN resolutions.

Two Singapore-based companies and three Russians also were sanctioned for providing oil to North Korea. They were identified as Transatlantic Partners Pte. Ltd., and two company officials, Russians Mikhail Pisklin and Andrey Serbin, and linked to illicit energy industry support to North Korea.

Pisklin at Transatlantic purchased fuel oil through a North Korean bank, Daesong Credit Development Bank, and Serbin, also with Transatlantic, worked with Irina Huish of Velmur Management Pte. Ltd. to buy gasoline for delivery to North Korea.

The activities were designed to evade sanctions on North Korea.

"Both of these companies have attempted to use the U.S. financial system to send millions of dollars in payments on behalf of North Korea-related transactions," Treasury said.

Additionally, Treasury imposed sanctions designed to curtail North Korea's use of its nationals working abroad as a source of hard currency for its weapons programs.

A North Korean entity called Mansudae Overseas Projects Architectural and Technical Services Ltd. was sanctioned for supporting Mansudae Overseas Projects Group of Companies, or MOP.

MOP was sanctioned in early August by the United Nations for exporting workers from North Korea to support the regime of Kim Jong Un and the ruling Workers' Party of Korea.

The workers were used to build statues abroad, often in African nations, to raise currency. Some of the funds generated by the company were used by North Korea's Munitions Industry Department that oversees the ballistic missile program.

Another target of the sanctions was Kim Tong Chol and Qingdao Construction, a Chinese subsidiary in Namibia. Kim was sanctioned for working MOP, Mansudae Overseas Projects Architectural and Technical Services, and Qingdao.

Kim was involved in a deal with Qingdao to take over four Namibian government-sponsored construction projects along with North Korean employees and materials linked to the projects.

In a separate but related action, the Justice Department on Tuesday announced it is filing two complaints seeking civil money laundering penalties and demanding more than $11 million from companies that acted as financial facilitators for North Korea.

The legal action was filed in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia and represents the largest seizure of North Korean assets by the Justice Department.

One complaint seeks nearly $7 million from Velmur Management, the Singapore company, and the second complaint wants $4 million from China's Dandong Chengtai Trading Co. Ltd., also known as Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co. Ltd. Transatlantic also was linked to the activities.

The Justice Department earlier in June sought $1.9 million from Mingzheng International Trading Ltd., a company based in Shenyang, China.

The companies were linked by Justice investigators to money laundering of U.S. dollars on behalf of North Korean companies in violation of U.S. economic sanctions.

"These complaints show our determination to stop North Korean sanctioned banks and their foreign financial facilitators from aiding North Korea in illegally accessing the United States financial system to obtain goods and services in the global market place," said U.S. Attorney Channing D. Phillips in a statement.

"According to the complaints, these front companies are supporting sanctioned North Korean entities, including North Korean military and North Korean weapons programs. Working with our law enforcement partners, we will vigorously enforce vital sanctions laws."

FBI Special Agent Michael DeLeon, head of the Phoenix office, said the companies were involved in helping North Korea evade sanctions.

"We will continue to use the necessary resources to expose these types of actions and investigate those who utilize the U.S. banking systems for illegal activities," he said.

The FBI found that Velmur and Transatlantic operated as money laundering fronts for North Korean banks.

The $7 million sought by the government was wired to Velmur in May.

The second complaint involving Dandong Chengtai and other front companies are controlled by Chi Yupeng, who was described as one of the largest financial facilitators for North Korea.

Dandong Chengtai conducted money laundering through the United States for the Korean Workers' Party, which is a sanctioned entity.

"These broad interwoven networks allow sanctioned North Korean entities to conduct illicit procurement and banking activity," the Justice Department said.

Don Lemon: Trump ‘Is Clearly Trying to Ignite a Civil War in This Country,’ May Have Dementia

CNN host Don Lemon said President Donald Trump is "clearly trying to ignite a civil war in this country" after his speech to supporters in Phoenix, Arizona, on Tuesday night, also pondering whether the president had dementia.

"He has given oxygen to racists," Lemon said. "He hasn't really said anything [to] denounce the alt-right … He is clearly trying to ignite a civil war in this country. He has not tamped down race."

In what CNN described in its chyron as an "angry, divisive speech," Trump lit into the media and also defended his criticized response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, omitting in his remarks to the crowd that he once said "both sides" carried blame for violence there.

Lemon said if Trump worked in his newsroom and said those things, he would be fired. Lemon then read out a tweet by CNN commentator Ana Navarro that the only "defensible explanation" for Trump's behavior would be early-onset dementia.

"Some people have been saying that for months, but listen—we don't know if that—he has—has he showed that he's fit for office?" Lemon asked, to which guest Maria Cardona emphatically said, "No."

Lemon also unloaded on Trump after his speech ended, calling it "unhinged" and "embarrassing" in an extended monologue.

Don Lemon Unloads on Trump Speech: ‘There Was No Sanity There’

CNN host Don Lemon lambasted President Donald Trump's speech in Phoenix, Arizona in a two-minute monologue on Tuesday night, calling his remarks "unhinged," "embarrassing," "petty," lacking "sanity," "without reason" and "devoid of facts."

Trump lit into the "crooked" press throughout much of his freewheeling, campaign-style rally address that lasted more than one hour. At one point, a chant of "CNN sucks" opened up in the audience.

"Well, what do you say to that?" Lemon asked after Trump's speech concluded, before launching into a diatribe against Trump.

Lemon called it a "total eclipse of the facts," saying Trump had come out on stage and "lied directly" to the American people about his response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.

"He's unhinged. It's embarrassing, and I don't mean for us, the media, because he went after us, but for the country," Lemon said. "This is who we elected President of the United States?"

"His speech was without thought," he added. "It was without reason. It was devoid of facts. It was devoid of wisdom. There was no gravitas. There was no sanity there."

Lemon said Trump's attempt to rehash his controversial response to Charlottesville, when he at one point said there were "fine people" on both sides of the protests there, showed he had been wounded by the backlash.

"If you watched that speech, as an American, you have to be thinking, what in the world is going on?" Lemon asked.

Trump Implies He Will Pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio: ‘I Think He’s Going to Be Just Fine’

President Donald Trump made clear to the audience at his Tuesday night rally that he would help Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, implying he might pardon him.

At the rally, Trump discussed the conviction of Arpaio, who was found guilty of contempt of court for not following a court order to refrain from detaining illegal immigrants. The crowd cheered Trump's mention of Arpaio, and the president cast doubt on the legitimacy of the guilty conviction.

Earlier in the day, White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders had announced that Trump would not pardon Sheriff Joe Arpaio Tuesday night. This, however, did not stop Trump from bringing him up.

"So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?" Trump asked. "He should have had a jury but you know what? I'll make a prediction. I think he's going to be just fine. Okay?"

Arpaio was not granted a request for a jury in his trial.

"I won't do it tonight because I don't want to cause any controversy," Trump said, presumably referring to pardoning Arpaio. "Is that okay? All right? But Sheriff Joe can feel good."

Rumors have swirled that Trump would be pardoning the sheriff. Arpaio endorsed Trump, and has been a staunch opponent of illegal immigration, one of Trump's primary campaign issues.

Phoenix Mayor Opposes Protesters Having Guns: ‘It’s Unfortunate but Arizona Is an Open-Carry State’

Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton (D.) expressed regret that some Arizonans were exercising their Second Amendment right to bear arms in the area near where President Donald Trump would speak later Tuesday night.

MSNBC host Rachel Maddow asked Stanton about the people carrying rifles near the Phoenix Convention Center, and he said that it was "unfortunate." Maddow noted that both pro- and anti-Trump elements were bearing arms and asked Stanton if that increased his concern.

"Yes, it does," Stanton said. "I wish that people who were coming downtown to express their First Amendment rights, either opposing the president and his policies and unfortunately his failure of moral leadership after Charlottesville just a few days ago, or those supporting the president would leave their weapons at home."

He did not mention the Second Amendment but did regret that Arizona allows open carry, which Maddow had mentioned.

"It's unfortunate but Arizona is an open-carry state," Stanton added. "And thus far there have been no arrests for any kind of weapons violations in Phoenix tonight."

Stanton equated the legal carrying of firearms with antagonism and expressed concern about the size of the weapons.

"They don't need to try to antagonize others in the audience by bringing those very large weapons," Stanton said.

Some "antifa" groups have been reported to have carried weapons, and the New Black Panther Party regularly demonstrates while armed. Trump supporters of various stripes are known to carry firearms as well, and Trump received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association.

CNN reported people from the "John Brown Society" carrying guns, although the network may have been referring to the John Brown Gun Club that has demonstrated before.

ESPN Removes Announcer Named Robert Lee From U. Virginia Football Game

A commentator named Robert Lee was scheduled to call a football game in Charlottesville, Virginia, but the coincidence that he shares a name with Confederate general Robert E. Lee caused ESPN to reverse course.

Lee was set to announce the University of Virginia's game against William and Mary but was moved to Youngstown State at Pittsburgh, sources inside ESPN told sportswriter Clay Travis of the "Outkick the Coverage" sports news blog. Considering the lack of connection between the general and the announcer, Travis found the episode indicative of the ESPN's increasing tendency toward political correctness.

"Is there anything more pathetic than ESPN believing people would be offended by an Asian guy named Robert Lee sharing a name with Robert E. Lee and calling a football game?" Travis wrote.

ESPN confirmed the report in a statement Tuesday night, saying that "in that moment it felt right."

"We collectively made the decision with Robert to switch games as the tragic events in Charlottesville were unfolding, simply because of the coincidence of his name," ESPN's statement reads. "In that moment it felt right to all parties. It’s a shame that this is even a topic of conversation and we regret that who calls play by play for a football game has become an issue."

"This makes it a bigger story than it ever would have been," Travis said on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" Tuesday, arguing that Lee announcing the game would have led to little more than Twitter jokes.

"Instead we are talking about how absurd this decision is for ESPN for days to come," he said.

"Does ESPN really believe people are this dumb or that having an Asian announcer named Robert Lee is too offensive for the average TV viewer to handle?" Travis wrote. "Yes, yes they do."

"I’m sorry you work for such an idiotic company, Robert Lee," he wrote.

Travis has long been a critic of ESPN, and has taken to calling the network "MSESPN," combining it with MSNBC to mock it for liberal bias. He has argued that its politically slanted coverage of sports, such as controversies around Colin Kaepernick, causes viewers to drop the network.

Various reports have stated publicly that ESPN discourages conservative viewpoints. Britt McHenry said that colleagues told her not to publicly identify as a conservative, and she did not become open about her politics until after leaving the company.

"Every time I think MSESPN can’t possibly get dumber, they get dumber," Travis said. "God save us all."

Trump’s Afghan Decision May Increase U.S. Air Power, Training

By Phil Stewart

ON BOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT (Reuters) – The U.S. Air Force may intensify its strikes in Afghanistan and expand training of the Afghan air force following President Donald Trump's decision to forge ahead with the 16-year-old war, its top general told Reuters on Tuesday.

Air Force Chief of Staff General David Goldfein said, however, he was still examining the matter, as the U.S. military's top brass had only begun the process of translating Trump's war strategy into action.

Asked whether the Air Force would dedicate more assets to Afghanistan, where the United States has been engaged in its longest military conflict, Goldfein said only: "Possibly."

"It's actually too early to tell what this will mean in terms of plus-ups and reductions," he said in a joint interview with Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson.

Still, he acknowledged that the Air Force was "absolutely" examining the possibility of increasing air power, including to support U.S. ground forces, following Trump's promise of a stepped-up campaign against Taliban insurgents, who have gained ground against U.S.-backed Afghan government forces.

Goldfein said the same about providing training to Afghan pilots.

Wilson, who assumed the Air Force's top civilian job three months ago, noted the Afghan military had made strides thanks to U.S. training and equipment, but added: "I think there is a long way to go there, very honestly."

In a speech on Monday night, Trump appeared to answer a call from the top U.S. commander on the ground for thousands of more troops to break a stalemate with Taliban insurgents, on top of the roughly 8,400 now deployed in Afghanistan.

Trump said the United States would not disclose troop numbers, but one U.S. official told Reuters they could start moving quickly. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday he would set troop levels following the review by military chiefs.

During the administration of Trump's predecessor, Barack Obama, U.S. military officials privately expressed frustration about their inability to strike at many Taliban targets – including training camps – unless they could show a direct threat to U.S. forces or major impact on the Afghan state.

Wilson said Trump appeared to be giving greater flexibility to strike insurgents.

"Obviously the Joint Chiefs will work through their plans and make proposals, but I think the guidance was pretty clear from the president last night, and we're going to go on the offensive and destroy these terrorist networks," Wilson said.

Goldfein said: "I thought that came out very loud and clear in the speech that that's his priority."

MORE FIREPOWER

Wilson and Goldfein spoke to Reuters while flying back to the United States after a nine-day trip that included a visit to Afghanistan, where the U.S. military has ramped up its firepower against Islamic State in recent months even as it helps Afghan forces battle the Taliban.

Particularly for the U.S. Air Force, the size of the American commitment to Afghanistan far outweighs the number of airmen deployed there. A network of U.S. installations throughout the Middle East supports the Afghan campaign, including in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

Still, any substantial increase in U.S. targeting of the Taliban and Islamic State militants would likely require dedicating more U.S. military assets to build intelligence, strike insurgent targets and provide support to U.S. forces in the field.

Although the U.S. military is stretched, a string of U.S. coalition-backed victories by Iraqi forces against Islamic State might free up some firepower and intelligence assets for Afghanistan, experts say.

Air Force spokesman Brigadier General Edward Thomas declined to speculate on operational planning. But he noted that U.S. air power from the region could be deployed, if needed, including fighter aircraft, bombers and spy planes.

"With the detailed planning that will follow the president's announcement, the Air Force will be ready to swing any additional airmen and aircraft to the fight as required," Thomas said.

PRESSURE ON PAKISTAN

Trump ran for the presidency calling for a swift U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, which the United States invaded in October 2001, and he acknowledged on Monday that he was going against his instincts in approving the new campaign plan sought by his military advisers.

Wilson said Trump's remarks represented a "strategic correction" in the war effort along with a significant shift in policy on Pakistan.

In his speech, Trump delivered a sharp rebuke to Islamabad for allowing Taliban insurgents a safe haven from which launch attacks in Afghanistan, and said it had "much to lose" unless it changed course. Pakistan denies that it harbors militants fighting U.S. and Afghan government forces in Afghanistan.

Reuters has reported that the United States has been considering a range of actions, including withholding aid to Pakistan and, perhaps, ramping up drone strikes.

Successive U.S. administrations have struggled with how to deal with nuclear-armed Pakistan, and the U.S. military has been dependent in the past on overflight or land routes through Pakistan to resupply its forces in landlocked Afghanistan.

Wilson did not rule out a future U.S. military role against militants in Pakistan should Islamabad fail to act, but she said Trump's focus appeared to be on diplomatic efforts for now.

"My assumption is that there will be some intense diplomatic pressure," she said.

Goldfein said he was not aware of any changes to U.S.-Pakistani military ties, but acknowledged the military would take its cues from the State Department.

"I can tell you that I have a fairly robust dialogue with the Pakistani air chief. I've hosted him. He's hosted me," Goldfein said. "But that dialogue is always supportive of the diplomatic dialogue."

Memo: De Blasio Conducted City Business With Personal Email and Pressured Officials to Help Donors

An investigation into New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio's (D.) fundraising practices has revealed that he extensively used his personal email to conduct city business.

The city's Department of Investigation said in a memo that de Blasio's personal email address appeared 1,850 times, the New York Times reports. The Department of investigation also found that the mayor requested city administrators help his donors.

The Times obtained the document through a Freedom of Information Law (FOIL) request.

De Blasio's activities include his "extensive and longstanding efforts" to help Harendra Singh, a campaign donor, with his multimillion dollar lease dispute.

The mayor's staff repeatedly told Department of Citywide Administrative Services officials to "resolve this matter" and help Singh with the lease because of his status as "a friend of the mayor," several officials said.

De Blasio has defended his fundraising practices repeatedly, and federal and state prosecutors chose not to prosecute him in March after an investigation.

"I'll just say simply it's been basically a year, I've said consistently that we acted appropriately," de Blasio said in March.

A U.S. attorney for New York did, however, find a pattern in which de Blasio solicited donations from people seeking city favors and then contacted agencies to request they help the mayor's donors. This pattern emerged in more than just Singh's case.

Other members of de Blasio's staff also used personal emails to conduct business. The memorandum found hundreds of instances of his senior aides improperly using personal email addresses, including his director of intergovernmental affairs, special counsel, first deputy mayor, and chief of staff.

City spokesman Eric Phillips said New York has no formal policy about private email use but chided de Blasio for not following protocol.

"Employees are supposed to use their government email for government work," Phillips said. "That's always been the protocol and we remind City Hall and agency staff of that frequently."

Dem Sen. Coons Praises Trump’s Remarks Against Bigotry

Sen. Chris Coons (D., Del.) praised President Donald Trump's remarks from a Monday night event where the president spoke out against bigotry.

Trump's remarks came during his announcement of the United State's new strategy in Afghanistan. CNN's Wolf Blitzer asked Coons on Tuesday about Trump's speech, which opened with the president condemning the violence that occurred in Charlottesville, Va.

"What you're referring to, Wolf, is one of his first sentences was, ‘when we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for bigotry or hatred,’" Coons said. "I thought that was a positive, a constructive thing for the president to say."

"and I think it bears repeating as many times as he chooses to repeat it, that as a nation we need to come together, particularly when we're confronting big issues of national security like our path forward in Afghanistan," he said.

Blitzer then asked Coons if he believed Trump was racist or bigoted, to which Coons said he didn't believe the president was.

Coons' remarks run contrary to some of his Democratic colleagues in Congress, including Rep. Ruben Gallego (D., Ariz.), who has explicitly called Trump a racist.

Report: Trump and McConnell Got Into ‘Profane Shouting Match’ Over the Phone

President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) got into a "profane shouting match" over the phone earlier this month when the president called to berate McConnell over the failure of the Obamacare repeal effort.

Trump and McConnell's relationship has devolved into a "feud of mutual resentment and sometimes outright hostility," according to the New York Times. Their clash has been further complicated by McConnell's wife Elaine Chao serving as Trump's Secretary of Transportation.

Trump sent out a series of tweets attacking McConnell after the latter said Aug. 7 that Trump had "excessive expectations" on legislation and noted the president's relatively minimal political experience.

According to the Times, Trump called McConnell Aug. 9 and criticized him over the July 28 health care bill collapse. Trump additionally attacked McConnell for not sufficiently protecting him from the ongoing Russia investigation:

In a series of tweets this month, Mr. Trump criticized Mr. McConnell publicly, then berated him in a phone call that quickly devolved into a profane shouting match.

During the call, which Mr. Trump initiated on Aug. 9 from his New Jersey golf club, the president accused Mr. McConnell of bungling the health care issue. He was even more animated about what he intimated was the Senate leader’s refusal to protect him from investigations of Russian interference in the 2016 election, according to Republicans briefed on the conversation.

Trump also told reporters that week that he was "very disappointed in Mitch."

McConnell's spokesman told the New York Times that the two men still share goals like tax reform, infrastructure, funding the government, and not defaulting on the debt.

However, McConnell has privately fumed about Trump's attacks on Republicans like the three senators who voted against the Obamacare repeal bill, as well as Sens. Dean Heller (R., Nev.) and Jeff Flake (R., Ariz.), who face re-election battles in 2018.

McConnell also "expressed horror" to his advisers about Trump's response to the white supremacist violence in Charlottesville, Va.