Senior Republicans have joined condemnation of President Donald Trump over an attack he made on Twitter against prominent journalist Mika Brzezinski.
Donald Trump called Mika Brzezinski “low IQ crazy Mika”, in response to disparaging remarks about him on an MSNBC show.
The president also referred to her “bleeding badly from a facelift” and assailed her co-presenter Joe Scarborough.
Senator Lindsey Graham said Donald Trump’s remarks were “beneath the office” of president.
Lindsey Graham said the tweet “represents what is wrong with American politics, not the greatness of America”.
“Please just stop. This isn’t normal,” tweeted fellow Republican Senator Ben Sasse.
Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan also joined the criticism, saying: “I don’t see that as an appropriate comment. What we’re trying to do around here is improve the tone, the civility of the debate. This obviously doesn’t help.”
MSNBC said it was “a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job”.
However, the White House sprang to President Trump’s defense.
Spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News: “I don’t think that the president has ever been someone that gets attacked and doesn’t push back.
“People on that [MSNBC] show have personally attacked him many times. This is a president who fights fire with fire and certainly will not be allowed to be bullied by liberal media and the liberal elites within the media, or Hollywood or anywhere else.”
Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough co-present the MSNBC’s Morning Joe, which has increasingly derided President Trump since he took office.
In recent weeks, Joe Scarborough has called Donald Trump a “bumbling dope”, resembling “a kid who pooped in his pants”, while Mika Brzezinski has mocked members of the administration as “lobotomized”.
President Trump tweeted on June 29: “I heard poorly rated @Morning_Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore).”
He accused “low I.Q. Crazy Mika” and “Psycho Joe” of “insisting on joining me” at his Mar-a-Lago Florida golf resort over three days at New Year’s Eve.
“She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!” the president added.
Democrat Nancy Pelosi called Donald Trump’s tweets “sexist, an assault on the freedom of the press & an insult to all women”.
Mika Brzezinski is the daughter of the late Zbigniew Brzezinski, who was an aide to presidents Carter and Johnson, while Joe Scarborough is a former Republican congressman. Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough are engaged to each other.