After Donald Trump issued a fierce Twitter rebuke of Bob Corker, the retiring Republican senator tweeted back: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
The exchange between the president and the chair of the Senate foreign relations committee was the latest undignified episode in Trump’s bizarre and fractious relationship with the Republican establishment and parts of his own administration. Trump’s treatment of secretary of state Rex Tillerson this week prompted remarks from Corker that were seen as critical of the president.
Midway through Sunday morning, Trump wrote: “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement).
“He also wanted to be secretary of state, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran deal!
“Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!”
Corker was considered for both vice-president and secretary of state and was a key Trump ally during much of the 2016 campaign. He has since become a vocal critic.
On the deal between Iran and six major nations including the US that restricts Tehran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, he is an important and supportive voice. It was reported this week that Trump, against the wishes of senior advisers, will not re-certify the deal. That would put it in the hands of Congress, which would decide whether to reimpose sanctions, a move that would threaten the deal’s existence.
Corker announced his decision to retire last month. “The most important public service I have to offer our country could well occur over the next 15 months,” he said, hinting at his opposition to the president. “I want to be able to do that as thoughtfully and independently as I did the first 10 years and nine months of my Senate career.”
This week, he made headlines when he implied that Trump was leading the US to the brink of “chaos”.
Speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill about reports that secretary of state Rex Tillerson called Trump a “fucking moron” and considered resigning, Corker said: “I think Secretary Tillerson, Secretary [of defense Jim] Mattis and Chief of Staff [John] Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”
Asked if he was referring to Trump, he said: “[Mattis, Kelly and Tillerson] work very well together to make sure the policies we put forth around the world are sound and coherent. There are other people within the administration that don’t. I hope they stay because they’re valuable to the national security of our nation.”
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