MSNBC hosts Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski interview then-candidate Donald Trump during a TV town hall on Wednesday, ...

After crude tweet about TV host Mika Brzezinski, Trump faces backlash from lawmakers

President Donald Trump ridiculed the looks and temperament of a female cable television host whose show he says he has stopped watching.

In a series of tweets Thursday morning, 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 has 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.

The White House did not immediately respond to questions about the tweets, including what it was that set the president off.

About two hours before the president’s tweets, Brzezinski said on the show that “it’s not normal behavior” for any leader to be tweeting about people’s appearances, bullying, lying, undermining managers and throwing people under the bus.

Saying that if any business executive behaved the way Trump does, “There would be concern that perhaps the person who runs the company is out of his mind.”

On their Thursday show, Brzezinski and Scarborough roundly mocked Trump for displaying in several of his golf resorts a fake Time Magazine cover featuring himself.

“That’s needy,” Brzezinski said on the show.

About 15 minutes before the president himself tweeted, White House social media director Dan Scavino similarly attacked the hosts.

Trump was correct that the MSNBC hosts spent time at the president’s Florida resort, a visit that Scarborough said was to arrange a Trump interview.

The hosts confirmed they are engaged to be married earlier this month.

In a NewsHour-NPR-Marist poll released Wednesday, most Americans said Trump’s use of Twitter is “reckless and distracting.”

Many lawmakers who took to Twitter on Thursday morning said they thought his latest tweets were simply unpresidential.

In 1789, George Washington wrote John Adams that “a President of the United States must ‘maintain the dignity of Office,’” Presidential historian Michael Beschloss wrote on twitter.

A number of lawmakers reacted to that principle Thursday:

Sen. Ben Sasse, R-Neb.

(Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., vice chair of the Senate Intelligence Committee, pointed to Sasse’s response as a “lesson in how to disagree with someone respectfully, with dignity.”)

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

Sen. Ed Markey. D-Mass.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine

Sen. James Lankford, R-Okla.

Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska 

White House spokesperson Sarah Huckabee Sanders told Fox News shortly after the tweets that “this is a president who fights fire with fire.”

Echoing what Melania Trump has stated in the past, the Office of the First Lady old CNN that “when her husband gets attacked, he will punch back 10 times harder.”

“Our culture has gotten too mean,” Melania Trump said at a November 2016 campaign stop in Pennsylvania.

“There is a level of viciousness that I was not expecting” in Washington, Trump’s daughter Ivanka told Fox News earlier this month.

Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., took the opportunity to pivot to the fight over health care.

But Rep. Lynn Jenkins, R-Kan. took the tweets as an affront to women, tweeting “this is not okay. As a female in politics I am often criticized for my looks. We should be working to empower women.

This isn’t the first time Trump has targeted Brzezinski in his tweets.

As a candidate in October 2015, Trump thanked her and Scarborough “for all of your nice words and comments on the debate!”

In February, the show hosted a town hall with Trump.

But in June 2016, Trump changed his tone. “I don’t watch or do @Morning_Joe anymore. Small audience, low ratings! I hear Mika has gone wild with hate. Joe is Joe. They lost their way!”

In August 2016: “Tried watching low-rated @Morning_Joe this morning, unwatchable! @morningmika is off the wall, a neurotic and not very bright mess!”

In September, he followed with: “Just heard that crazy and very dumb @morningmika had a mental breakdown while talking about me on the low ratings @Morning_Joe. Joe a mess!”

Dan Cooney and Associated Press writer Julie Bykowicz wrote this report.