President Joe Biden asserted on Wednesday that five GOP members of the US Senate who have told him privately that they would support parts of his agenda were it not for their fears of primary challengers supported by former President Donald Trump.
The president said that the problem was an example of how Mr Trump was “intimidating an entire party”.
“I’ve had five Republican senators...who have told me they agree with whatever I am talking about for them to do. ‘But Joe, if I do it, I am going to be defeated in the primary.’ We have to break that. It’s got to change,” he explained.
He declined to name the senators when asked by a journalist.
Mr Biden went on to attack Mr Trump’s iron grip on the GOP and the unwillingness of Republican politicians to stand up to their former president.
"Did you ever think that one man out of office could intimidate an entire party where they're unwilling to take any vote contrary to what he thinks should be taken for fear of being defeated in a primary?" he asked.
The remarks come as the former president has already engaged in a concerted effort to purge the GOP of politicians who stood in the way of his attempts to overturn the 2020 election, and has pursued political retribution against those who supported the bipartisan infrastructure framework passed by Congress and signed into law last year.
Mr Trump also remains the heavy favourite to win the GOP nomination in 2024, though he faces newfound rivalries from some rising figures in the Republican Party such as Florida’s Ron DeSantis.
A majority of Republicans said in a recent Qunnipiac poll that they wanted Mr Trump to run again in 2024, while the majority of the country as a whole does not.
The president faced questions on Wednesday about the state of his presidency ahead of the one-year anniversary of his inauguration, which will occur on Thursday. In particular, he was pressed on his campaign promise to unify the country and in particular the two parties in Congress, who after twelve months of a Biden presidency remain deeply divided on most issues preventing the movement of most legislation in the equally-divided Senate.
Mr Biden acknowledged that his administration had made some mistakes but dismissed the idea that his administration would not be able to get anything done before the midterms.
Register for free to continue reading
Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism
By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists
Already have an account? sign in
Join our new commenting forum
Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies