Sen. Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, on Sunday called the White House “an adult day care center” after President Trump attacked him in a morning Twitter tirade.
Setting off an extraordinary squabble between two leaders of the same party, Trump alleged in a trio of tweets that Corker “begged” him for his endorsement, did not receive it and decided to retire because he “didn’t have the guts” to run for reelection next year.
In response, Corker (Tenn.) tweeted, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Is that what the kids call a “sick burn”?
By alienating Corker, Trump risks further endangering his legislative agenda. As chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Corker would be a leading voice on Capitol Hill determining the future of the Iran nuclear deal, should Trump “decertify” the agreement and punt to Congress a decision about whether to restore sanctions against Iran.
Corker also sits on the Senate Budget Committee and looks to play a key role in the upcoming debate over taxes. The senator already has expressed some concerns with the Trump administration’s proposal on tax cuts.
Trump’s public lashing of Corker comes after the senator made headlines last week when he starkly suggested that the national security team provides the president with badly needed adult supervision. In a remarkable statement, Corker told reporters that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly “are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”
Trump, who has little tolerance for public criticism and prides himself on counterpunching those who cross him, fired off a trio of tweets Sunday morning attacking Corker, who announced last month that he plans to retire and not seek reelection in 2018.
Trump tweeted, “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!”
Todd Womack, Corker’s chief of staff, disputed each of the claims the president made in his tweets. Trump called Corker early last week and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek reelection, according to Womack. He said the president also reaffirmed that he would have endorsed Corker had he decided to run again — which, Womack added, was not the first time that Trump had extended such an offer of support.
Speaking of sick burns, while I won’t miss Corker, who became a US Senator thanks to Republican race-baiting, it should be noted that at one time, he signaled a willingness to embrace a “market-based” approach to fighting climate change, making him a slight moral improvement over both Trump and avowed climate denier Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Corker’s likely Senate successor. Will Corker join former Rep. Bob Inglis (R-SC) and other prominent GOP figures in advocating for “market-based” solutions to the climate crisis once he leaves the Senate? To paraphrase one of Trump’s famous lines, what would he have to lose?