Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said this morning that he’s been called upon by White House staff to intervene when President Trump is “getting ready to go off the rails, which happens, as you know, often.”
“Look, this has been building for a long time. I have had a private dinner with the president. I’ve played golf with the president,” Corker said of his onetime support for Trump during the campaign that has turned into a Washington feud. “Look, I’ve done a lot of things privately. And this has just continued to build. But I think the thing that has probably caused me to be most critical is kneecapping his secretary of State, when we’re trying to deal with North Korea in a manner that doesn’t lead us to a regional, global conflict.”
Trump tweeted at the first of the month: “I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man …Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!”
“When you end up putting yourself in a position where you’re not supporting trying to resolve, especially with China, this issue diplomatically, you basically are taking the country to a binary choice which can, in fact, lead to war,” Corker continued. “That’s when I began — and I think when he got upset with me was when I talked — I don’t know why — I complimented his national security team for keeping us from chaos.”
Corker previously praised Tillerson, John Kelly and James Mattis as “people that help separate our country from chaos.”
“But look, I don’t want to rehash all of that. I’ve got stuff to do here, tax reform. We’ve got issues to deal with, with Iran,” he added. “One thing, I don’t get up in the morning and think about is what’s happening at the White House relative to outbursts.”
The Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman told the network that he interviewed for the secretary of State job but was “thrilled” when Trump chose Tillerson instead.
Corker said he has not spoken with Trump, not even at a luncheon with senators and the president earlier this week, since charging this week that the president’s behavior was “debasing” the nation.
Speaking with reporters Wednesday, Trump characterized the GOP meeting as a “lovefest.”
“There is great unity,” he said. “If you look at the Democrats with Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, that’s a mess. There’s great unity in the Republican Party.”
At Tuesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Corker, who announced recently that he would not run for another term, was “maybe trying to get a headline or two on his way out the door.”