On Thursday, President Donald Trump insulted Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer on Twitter, referring to him as "Cryin’ Chuck Schumer" and criticizing him for his stance on the Iran nuclear deal. In response, Schumer trolled Trump by referencing Melania Trump's "Be Best" campaign, the anti-cyberbullying effort that the first lady formally unveiled on Tuesday.
"Senator Cryin’ Chuck Schumer fought hard against the Bad Iran Deal, even going at it with President Obama, & then Voted AGAINST Donald Trump fumed on Twitter Thursday morning. "Now he says I should not have terminated the deal - but he doesn’t really believe that!"
The New York Democrat had a simple response: "#BeBest"
Schumer isn't the first person to note the irony of Melania Trump championing anti-bullying efforts, given that she's campaigned for, and continues to support, a politician who regularly uses schoolyard insults to attack his enemies. But this irony isn't the only reason the first lady's campaign has drawn criticism and mockery.
Although Melania Trump announced her desire to fight bullying back in 2016, she didn't formally announce the Be Best campaign until Tuesday. This announcement was accompanied by the release of an anti-cyberbullying pamphlet, "Talking with Kids about Being Online," that the White House claimed was "by First Lady Melania Trump and the Federal Trade Commission."
However, the pamphlet FLOTUS trumpeted was nearly identical to one that the Obama White House released in 2014. The new version featured an introduction by Melania, but other than that, the contents of the document were almost exactly the same. After this was pointed out on social media, the Be Best website was changed, and now says that "Talking with Kids about Being Online" is "a Federal Trade Commission booklet, promoted by First Lady Melania Trump."
In a statement, Melania Trump's communications director, Stephanie Grisham, acknowledged that the pamphlet was first produced by the FTC in 2009, but also criticized the media for reporting on this.
"Despite providing countless outlets with ample background, information, and on-the-record comments from the FTC, some media have chosen to take a day meant to promote kindness and positive efforts on behalf of children, to instead lob basesless accusations towards the First Lady and her new initiatives," Grisham said.
Nevertheless, Melania Trump's appropriation of language from the Obama administration drew comparisons to her 2016 speech at the Republican National Convention, much of which was taken nearly word-for-word from a speech Michelle Obama gave at the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
Donald Trump and Schumer have had an on-and-off relationship over the years. As president-elect, Trump praised Schumer as "far smarter than Harry [Reid, the former Democratic Senate leader]" and said that the two New Yorkers have "always had a good relationship." Business Insider reported in 2017 that Trump has donated more to Schumer than any other member of Congress, and the president stunned Democrats and Republicans alike in September when, as Congress tussled over a must-pass debt ceiling increase bill, he threw his support behind a bill crafted by Schumer and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and rejected more conservative legislation proposed by GOP lawmakers.
But the two have butted heads as well. Ten days after Trump took office, Schumer criticized the president's travel ban against several Muslim-majority countries, and held a press conference on the topic at which he appeared to cry. Trump accused Schumer of shedding "fake tears," and quipped that he wants to ask the senator "who is his acting coach."
Months later, when Schumer condemned Trump for firing FBI Director James Comey and demanded that Deputy Attorney General Rod Rosenstein appoint a special prosecutor to investigate Russian meddling in the election, Trump accused "Cryin' Chuck Schumer" of being hypocritical by condemning Comey in the past and then lamenting his firing by Trump.
As for the Iran deal, Schumer explained his stance in a statement Thursday, saying that although he opposed the original deal, Trump shouldn't have withdrawn from it because Iran hasn't violated the agreement.