President Donald Trump locks horns with House Freedom Caucus

The feud between President Donald Trump and members of the House Freedom Caucus keeps escalating, a sign of serious disarray in the Republican Party.

Dan Scavino Jr., a senior adviser to Trump, is now supporting a 2018 primary challenge against Rep. Justin Amash, R-Mich., a Freedom Caucus member who defied Trump by opposing a health care overhaul that the president endorsed. The bill was withdrawn last month in an embarrassing defeat for the Republican administration.

Scavino, director of social media at the White House, wrote on Twitter Saturday:

Amash replied with his own tweets, and urged supporters to donate money to help him win re-election.

Amash, who has been elected to four House terms, also tweeted:

Last week, Trump singled out other Freedom Caucus members for criticism because they defied him on the health care bill. Trump declared that in 2018 he and his allies should "fight" these caucus members, who are among the most conservative legislators in the House. They included Reps. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., the caucus chairman, and Jim Jordan, R-Ohio.

Scavino's move prompted an allegation that he may have violated the Hatch Act, a federal law against using an official government position to influence an election. Richard Painter, a former ethics lawyer in Republican President George W. Bush's White House, tweeted, "Read the Hatch Act and fire this man NOW. Someone call OSC," the Office of Special Counsel, an independent agency that monitors the laws and investigates alleged abuses.

Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, another Freedom Caucus member, told Fox News on Sunday, that Trump is headed for more defeats if he continues to listen to establishment Republicans including House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., and White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus. Gohmert said Trump wrongly decided to "go to war against the people that defended the president when Ryan and those others had abandoned him" and were "running scared" during the campaign.

But Rep. Rod Blum, R-Iowa, of the Freedom Caucus, said his office has surveyed thousands of constituents about the Trump-endorsed health care bill and they were "overwhelmingly against it." Blum told the Washington Post, "I feel pressure, yes, I do. I feel pressure to say no. They're overwhelmingly, resoundingly saying, 'Thank you for being a no.'"

On Sunday, Trump vowed to press on. He wrote on Twitter, "Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!" He also tweeted: "Talks on Repealing and Replacing ObamaCare are, and have been, going on, and will continue until such time as a deal is hopefully struck."

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