Republican Ben Sasse says he's 'sad' for 'needy and desperate' Trump in parting shot before leaving the Senate

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© Al Drago/Pool via AP
Then- Republican Sen. Ben Sasse of Nebraska speaks during a hearing on Capitol Hill. Al Drago/Pool via AP

  • GOP Sen. Ben Sasse offered a parting blow to Trump as the Nebraskan leaves Congress.
  • Sasse, who is moving on to academia, said it’s “sad” the former president is so “needy and desperate.”
  • The Nebraska Republican also praised Trump for appointing conservative judges.

Outgoing Republican Sen. Ben Sasse offered a parting shot at Donald Trump shortly before leaving the Senate, saying he’s “sad” for the former president, while also praising Trump’s conservative judicial appointments.

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“I’m just sad for him as a human because obviously there’s a lot of complicated stuff going on in that soul,” Sasse told the Omaha World-Herald of Trump. “Just at a human level, I’m sad for him to be that needy and desperate.”

Sassed added that on a policy level, “I always loved that he kept his word on the judges … And so we got to work closely on judges.”

Sasse formally resigned from the Senate on Sunday to become the next president of the University of Florida. A staunch conservative, the Nebraskan worked with the Trump White House on a myriad of policy issues. But Sasse never connected with Trump on a personal level, frequently criticizing the candidate and later president in a fractious relationship that culminated in Sasse’s vote in favor of convicting Trump for inciting the Capitol riot.

“The president repeated these lies when summoning his crowd — parts of which were widely known to be violent — to Capitol Hill to intimidate Vice President Pence and Congress into not fulfilling our constitutional duties,” Sasse said in a statement after joining six fellow Republicans in voting to convict Trump.”Those lies had consequences, endangering the life of the vice president and bringing us dangerously close to a bloody constitutional crisis.”

Trump repeatedly lashed out at Sasse, including in 2016 when he said the Nebraskan looked “more like a gym rat than a U.S. senator.” Allies of the former president in the Nebraska Republican Party also moved to formally rebuke the senator after his conviction vote. Spokespeople for Trump did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.

As for his legacy, Sasse told the World-Herald that in addition to working with Trump to confirm conservative judges, including three Supreme Court justices, he is proud of his work on the Senate Intelligence Committee and for his role in the creation of the Cyberspace Solarium Commission, a bipartisan panel focused on advising a strategy to thwart major cyber attacks.

Sasse’s retirement leaves a temporary hole in the closely divided chamber. Republican Gov. Jim Pillen, who was just sworn in last week, will now appoint someone to serve out the remainder of Sasse’s term.

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has made it clear he wants now-former Gov. Pete Ricketts, whose family owns the Chicago Cubs and made a fortune in financial services, to come to Washington. It also helps that Ricketts is a close ally of Pillen, who was his preferred replacement. Ricketts ran unsuccessfully for the Senate in 2006, losing handily to then-Democratic Sen. Ben Nelson. Ricketts later resurrected his political career as a two-term governor, using his personal wealth to push his favored causes and candidates.

Sasse’s appointment to lead the University of Florida was not without controversy. His only experience leading a university comes from his time as president of Midland University, a small, private Lutheran university in Fremont, Nebraska home to more than 1,600 students. By comparison, Florida boasts an enrollment of over 60,000.

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