President Trump and the party he leads are increasingly at each other's throats at a time when lawmakers are back in their districts for recess.
Trump sometimes treats congressional Republicans as an opposition party, tweeting criticism of them and reprimanding them in public settings. Republicans have taken to doing the same — ignoring the president as if his spotlight-grabbing tweets don't exist and rebuking him on key elements of his foreign and domestic priorities.
Their partnership almost resembles a parliamentary-style, ruling coalition rather than the unified, one-party control of government that both sides imagined on Election Day 2016.
"We've certainly had a hard time, here, agreeing on much," said Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., a prominent Trump critic on the Right. "That's reflected in the dearth of legislation passing."
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, acknowledged that he sometimes feels like the leader of a European governing coalition rather than a majority party.
"Our conference does feel like a coalition," he told the Washington Examiner just before Congress adjourned for the August recess period. "You have an ideological spectrum, you have regional differences, you'll have just differences of temperament and personality and trying to put 51 votes together when you have 52 members — it's hard."
Trump's rise has elevated the populists, often working-class and rural voters, who tend to be less fiscally conservative and hawkish on foreign policy and more motivated by cultural wedge issues like guns and same-sex marriage, than traditional conservatives, who tend to hold down white-collar jobs and live in the suburbs.
The conflict has infected intraparty relations in the states and at the grassroots level as well, leading to factionalism and a group of party loyalists who are a separate and distinct group from Trump loyalists, although there is overlap.
"The populist-conservative fusion has been coming for some time," Republican strategist Brad Todd said. "The trick is going to be finding some things that each branch of the party wants that the other branch can live with."
The impact has been felt among Republicans on Capitol Hill. Whether on repealing Obamacare, controlling government spending or immigration reform, they periodically run into trouble in advancing their own agenda because of they can't agree among themselves. But Trump certainly controls the party apparatus.
The installation of Kayleigh McEnany as national spokesman for the Republican National Committee is the latest example of Trump's takeover. McEnany doesn't have experience as a professional GOP communications operative, as an individual in her position usually does.
But she is a Trump loyalist who excelled in an arena important to the president: on CNN as television surrogate.
Trump nevertheless remains, in many respects, a stranger in his own party. That's most evident in his reliance on Vice President Mike Pence, a traditional Reagan conservative, for political and policy outreach.
Pence was an essential tool Trump used during the general election to reassure skeptical Republicans that they could trust the GOP nominee. Pence also forged connections between with a standoffish party establishment whose work on the ground was important to helping Trump win.
The president's dependence on Pence has continued long past Election Day, however.
Two-hundred days into his administration, Trump hasn't developed the array of relationships with members of his party on Capitol Hill that the previous Republican other president had or, in place of those connections, strong personal and political loyalty.
Pence is still the president's conduit to many Republicans on Capitol Hill — the White House figure congressional Republicans actually trust and prefer to deal with. As Sen. Jim Inhofe told the Washington Examiner during an interview in late June when asked what Trump could do to ensure passage of legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare:
"Keep in mind, his greatest ally in helping him is the vice president," the Oklahoma Republican said on June 22, roughly one month before the Senate GOP bill failed. "That's an area where he's going to be more prominent in trying to help get this through than the president, because he has the direct contact with the individuals."
The vice president is also Trump's go-to for much of the party-building activities outside of Washington that are normally overseen more directly by the president and his staff. It's that dynamic that created the atmosphere for speculation to flourish that Pence had ulterior motives for launching a leadership PAC and traveling the country to raise money and campaign on behalf off down-ticket Republicans.
"The party is damaged and fractured," a former House GOP leadership aide said. "Part of that was a pre-existing condition, and part of that is Trump throwing gas on the fire every day."