The only hope for improved relations between President Trump and the Republican Congress might be for Trump to stop criticizing members of his own party, something that nobody expects to happen.
"I don't know that there is much more Trump can do right now to rehabilitate himself with the Senate beyond keeping his mouth shut for a while," said Rory Cooper, managing director of Purple Strategies and a former Republican aide on Capitol Hill.
But some GOP strategists believe it's unlikely Trump will ever back down from his combative approach to dealing with Republicans who don't follow along, given Trump's nature and the fact that criticizing lawmakers cements his image as an outsider.
Trump has shown he's not afraid to hit anyone in the Senate, from leaders to rank-and-file lawmakers, and has been especially critical lately of Republicans.
Media reports citing anonymous sources say Trump and Sen. Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, have stopped speaking to each other after a profanity-laced call over the stalled Republican agenda. Trump has targeted Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., who wrote a book criticizing his administration, by tweeting favorably about Flake's likely primary opponent Kelli Ward.
"Not a fan of Jeff Flake," Trump tweeted this week after thousands attended his rally in Phoenix, Flake's back yard. "Weak on crime & border!"
And on Friday, he lashed out at Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., who has questioned whether Trump understands the "character of this nation." Trump replied by mocking Corker for "constantly" asking him for political advice.
Congressional Republicans are getting angry at the president's attacks. Flake said Thursday that Trump's behavior is "inviting" a 2020 Republican presidential primary challenger, while McConnell is reportedly questioning whether Trump's presidency can survive.
But instead of backing down, Trump stepped up his attacks on Congress Thursday, blaming both McConnell and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., for failing to link a critical debt ceiling measure to a bill that would reform veterans affairs, which Trump said would keep Democrats from attempting a filibuster.
"Could have been easy — now a mess!" Trump tweeted.
The deepening discord was sparked by a disappointing work period in which Republicans failed to pass the debt ceiling increase measure, or the long-promised tax reform and repeal of Obamacare that was initially slated for completion by August.
The lack of accomplishments are hurting the party, polls show. Trump's approval rating now hovers around 34 percent, while the approval rating for Congress was just 16 percent in early August, according to Gallup.
According to one top GOP strategist with close ties to the White House, Trump is lashing out at lawmakers to deflect the negative attention onto Congress, which has long suffered from a dismal approval ratings. Recent polling shows that plan seems to be working, as the public believes Republicans are stalling Trump's agenda and that Trump is not at fault.
"Trump does not want to improve relations with Congress because he would rather blame them for inaction in an attempt to preserve his outsider status he had during the campaign," the strategist said. "It's also a great way to point the blame towards Capitol Hill to cover his own challenges with understanding how government works."
Cooper, who served as a top aide to former House Majority Leader Eric Cantor, said Trump appears ignorant of the damage he may be doing by attacking members of his own party and that his agenda would have no chance of passing if Republicans lose the majorities they now hold in both chambers.
Trump's attack on Flake, for example, makes his re-election prospects more difficult and could pave the way for a viable Democratic challenger, threatening the GOP's two-seat advantage.
"If you think passing bills with 52 Republicans is hard, try it with 48," Cooper said. "It's insane that Trump can simultaneously call for an end to the filibuster to make passing legislation easier and try to defeat members of his own party."
The division could worsen now that Republicans are starting to hit right back at Trump. Still, some top GOP aides suggest the rift between Trump and Congress is overblown.
One Republican called anonymous sourcing in the New York Times story about McConnell's relationship with the president "flimsy at best," but did not deny that the acrimonious call between the two men took place.
McConnell last week disputed the rift and said he and Trump "continue to be in regular contact about our shared goals."
Michael Steel, a GOP strategist and former top House leadership aide who also worked for Ryan's 2012 vice presidential bid, said Republican lawmakers anticipated Trump's outsider status would foster an atypical dynamic between Congress and the White House.
"It's not surprising that his relationship with Congress is unique and often fraught," Steel said.
But GOP lawmakers know they have a rare opportunity to pass a party agenda that Trump, a Republican president, will sign. They'll put up with Trump, Steel said, if it means getting tax reform or a major infrastructure measure passed.
"They will find a way," Steel said. "Despite the president's tweets and taunts."