Former House Speaker John Boehner on Monday took aim at former President Donald Trump and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas), even suggesting the Republican Party would be better off by ditching Trump’s rhetoric.

Key Facts

Asked during a CBS This Morning interview about Trump reportedly bashing Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell at a GOP donor event, Boehner said “rhetoric that inflames people is wrong,” adding that the GOP would be “much better off” if it returned to its “principles.”

Boehner said there are “a lot of leaders” in the Republican Party, singling out McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, but said Trump is “retired, unemployed and appears to want to play some type of a role.”

The comments come ahead of the release of Boehner’s tell-all book, On The House, in which he takes aim at the right-wing elements in his party, including Cruz, who he called a “reckless jackass who thinks he’s smarter than everybody else” in the interview.

Boehner has also trained his fire on Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio), a staunch Trump defender and leader right wing of the House GOP caucus, who he calls a “political terrorist” in the book, along with Cruz.

But Boehner has more broadly denounced the rightward shift of the Republican Party and the right-wing media for its effect on voters, even writing that in 2010, “You could be a total moron and get elected just by having an R next to your name.”

Key Background

Boehner represented Ohio in Congress from 1991 to 2015, and led the House GOP from 2007 until his resignation over increasingly unmanageable tactics from party’s the right-wing. He has since joined the board of a tobacco company and become chair of a pro-marijuana lobbying group.

Crucial Quote

“What struck me, especially after the election, was, here’s all these people loyal to Donald Trump, and he abused them. He stepped all over their loyalty to him by continuing to say things that just weren’t true,” Boehner said of Trump’s baseless election fraud claims in a USA Today interview.

Chief Critic

“The Swamp is unhappy. I wear with pride his drunken, bloviated scorn. Please don’t cry,” Cruz tweeted in response to a clip of Boehner calling Cruz a “jerk” and saying he would beat him up.