By JONATHAN LEMIRE and JULIE BYKOWICZ
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump on Thursday ridiculed the brains, looks and temperament of a female cable television host whose show he says he has stopped watching. His latest crude broadside against a woman’s appearance set off a storm of protest from Republicans and Democrats alike and did nothing to advance his struggling policy agenda.
In a series of tweets morning tweets, the president went after Mika Brzezinski and Joe Scarborough, who have criticized Trump on their MSNBC show “Morning Joe.”
“I heard poorly rated @Morning Joe speaks badly of me (don’t watch anymore). Then how come low I.Q. Crazy Mika, along with Psycho Joe, came … to Mar-a-Lago 3 nights in a row around New Year’s Eve, and insisted on joining me. She was bleeding badly from a face-lift. I said no!”
Brzezinski responded on Twitter by posting a photograph of a Cheerios box that includes the phrase “made for little hands.” Critics looking to get under the president’s skin have long suggested that his hands appear smaller than usual for his frame.
“It’s a sad day for America when the president spends his time bullying, lying and spewing petty personal attacks instead of doing his job,” NBC News spokeswoman Lorie Acio said in a statement.
Deputy White House press secretary Sarah Sanders defended the president, suggesting the tweets were just his way of countering an attack.
“I don’t think that the president’s ever been someone who gets attacked and doesn’t push back,” she said on Fox News. “There have been an outrageous number of personal attacks — not just to him but to frankly everyone around him. 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.”
First Lady Melania Trump, who has said she wants to run an effort to combat cyber-bullying, also defended her husband’s conduct.
“As the first lady has stated publicly in the past, when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder,” said her spokeswoman, Stephanie Grisham.
It was not immediately clear what set Trump off. About two hours before his tweets, Brzezinski said on the show that “it’s not normal behavior” for any leader to be tweeting about people’s appearances or to be bullying, lying, undermining managers and throwing people under the bus.
She said that if any business executive…