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A Timeline Of The Escalating Feud Between Republican Senator Bob Corker And President Trump


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While Donald Trump’s longtime feud with Sen. John McCain (R-Arizona) is alive and well, the president’s more recent fight with outgoing Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tennessee) packs just as much of a punch. This seems especially true of Corker, whose recent decision to retire from public office has apparently emboldened the junior senator against Trump — along with the entire White House. Below you’ll find an updated accounting of the two men’s less-than-friendly interactions with each other, dating back to the time Corker refused to outright endorse Trump’s candidacy.

  • April 28, 2016: During an appearance on CNN, Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, praises Trump’s recent foreign policy speech as “very thoughtful.” He also reveals the presidential hopeful had just reached out to him, saying the two men had a “good conversation” about the campaign. Despite lauding what he described as Trump’s “really good transition in the campaign,” however, Corker doesn’t outright endorse the Republican candidate.
  • July 5, 2016: At a campaign rally in Raleigh, North Carolina, Corker briefly opens for Trump, saying the two men “had a pretty remarkable day.” Aside from praising the then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee, however, the senator still doesn’t officially endorse (let alone use the word “endorse”) Trump for president.
  • July 20, 2016: Corker echoes his positive sentiments for Trump’s candidacy again while attending the Republican National Convention in Cleveland, Ohio. Again, the senator refuses to outright endorse his party’s nominee, though he does speak candidly about their relationship. (By this point, Corker has been regularly giving Trump foreign policy advice.) He also begins teasing the idea of being a possible pick for state or treasury secretary, but avoids discussing any specifics.
  • November 16, 2016: Sure enough, several reports by BuzzFeed News and CNN list Corker’s name as one of several being considered by the victorious Trump campaign for the state secretary position. Then again, former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich are also listed as possibilities to lead the State Department (which, of course, eventually goes to Rex Tillerson).

  • May 16, 2017: After President Trump reportedly reveals classified intelligence obtained by Israel to Russian officials visiting the Oval Office, Corker and many of his colleagues on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee unleash their wrath. “They are in a downward spiral right now,” he says of the White House. “There’s a really good national security team in place… but the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think creates a worrisome environment.”
  • August 17, 2017: Seeing as how Corker wasn’t the only Republican politician to publicly condemn the intelligence leak in May, neither Trump nor the White House single him out in their responses. Everything changes in mid-August when, following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, Corker joined the chorus of GOP officials chastizing Trump’s response — or lack thereof. “The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” he says in a video statement.
  • August 24, 2017: A week later, Corker’s comments are used in a question for Sarah Sanders at the White House Press Briefing. “I think that’s a ridiculous and outrageous claim,” she says briefly, “and doesn’t even require a response from this podium.”
  • August 25, 2017: Perhaps because Corker’s criticisms were directly addressed during the briefing, and therefore broadcast everywhere, Trump decides to respond the same way he does to almost everything else he sees on television — via Twitter. “Strange statement by Bob Corker,” the president writes, “considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18. Tennessee not happy!” When asked about Trump’s spurious tweet by CNN, Corker says he “thought his tweet was fine” and notes they still have “multiple interactions.”
  • September 11, 2017: Despite telling CNN he and Trump “spend a lot of time together” doing things like “[playing] golf” and “[talking] to me about being potentially vice president, secretary of state,” many in the press assume tensions between Corker and the president are high. This is especially evident when, a few weeks after Trump’s tweet suggesting the Tennessean senator might not run again in 2018, Corker reveals he’s considering retirement altogether. “It’s a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues,” he says, “but I have not decided what I’m going to do in the future.”
  • September 14, 2017: The day before Corker and Trump are scheduled to meet at the White House, the former insists their relationship “is very, very strong,” adding: “We have a one-on-one private meeting tomorrow at 1 p.m. ET. For people to act as if there’s daylight between us, that just is not true.” Corker’s remarks, given at a press conference, seem designed to finally squash any rumors pertaining to the seemingly distraught relationship the two men previously had.
  • September 15, 2017: After Corker and Trump conclude their meeting, the former’s spokeperson says only that they had a “very productive one-on-one discussion.” What’s more, Corker’s communications team adds, “Key members of the White House staff joined them to talk through a number of domestic and foreign policy issues. The conversations were wide ranging and extremely constructive. In all, they were together for well over an hour.” The White House’s account differs little from Corker’s official statement.
  • September 26, 2017: After a month of speculation initially triggered by Trump’s late-August tweet about Corker’s 2018 indecision, the Tennessean senator announces he will not be seeking reelection. “After much thought, consideration and family discussion over the past year, Elizabeth and I have decided that I will leave the United States Senate when my term expires at the end of 2018,” Corker says in a statement.
  • October 4, 2017: If anyone thought Corker’s retirement signaled the end of his public feuding with Trump, they thought wrong. After all, without needing to seek approval from the White House nor the Republican establishment, the outgoing senator essentially let loose on the Trump administration. Speaking with reporters, Corker says, “Secretary Tillerson, Secretary Mattis, and Chief of Staff Kelly are those people that help separate our country from chaos, and I support them very much.” When asked for his assessment of Trump and Tillerson’s reportedly rocky relationship, Corker says, “[It’s] in an incredibly frustrating place.” He added, “[Tillerson] ends up being not being supported in the way I would hope a secretary of state would be supported.”

  • October 8, 2017: Cue the fireworks, because Corker’s comments apparently irritate Trump so much that, a few days later, the president decides to target him specifically during a Sunday morning Twitter rant. “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee,” Trump claims. “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!” In a third and final tweet, the president adds, “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!”

    “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center,” Corker tweets a few hours later. “Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.” Within the first hour of its posting, the tweet garners over 19,000 retweets and 43,000 likes and skyrockets “Adult Day Care” to the top of the social media platform’s trending list. Later that day, in an interview with the New York Times, the senator accuses Trump of lying about his begging for an endorsement. He also suggests the president is treating his office like “a reality show” — “like he’s doing The Apprentice or something” — and warns this will put us “on the path to World War III.”

  • October 9, 2017: Monday’s cable news programs are quick to jump on the Trump-Corker feud, and Fox & Friends strikes first with Kellyanne Conway. “We’ve all worked with Senator Corker over the years. We thanked him for his service,” she begins, “but I find tweets like this to be incredibly irresponsible.” After completely missing the irony of this statement, the former Trump campaign manager doubles-down: “I think comments like this are less helpful than saying, ‘I don’t like X, Y, Z, but I support the president on tax reform.'”

    At the same time, the New York Times publishes more snippets of its interview with Corker, who says he doesn’t think Trump fully “understands” or “appreciates” the magnitude of his public messages — be they spoken or tweeted. Trump responds with a tweet, claiming the Times fooled Corker by recording their conversations. (They didn’t.) Meanwhile, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) came out in support of his Senate colleague on Late Night with Seth Meyers. “It’s one of the worst kept secrets in Washington,” says Booker, “that Republicans and Democrats are very worried about the person that’s sitting in the White House.”

  • October 11, 2017: A new report by Vanity Fair‘s Gabriel Sherman indicates Corker’s insults, along with several other missteps, have enraged Trump. “According to two sources familiar with the conversation, Trump vented to his longtime security chief, Keith Schiller, ‘I hate everyone in the White House! There are a few exceptions, but I hate them!'” The White House denies Sherman’s account, but multiple sources confirm it.
  • October 15, 2017: After Corker tells the Washington Post he believes Trump’s constantly undermining Secretary Tillerson has “castrated” him, the former ExxonMobil CEO sits down with CNN’s Jake Tapper to discuss this and related matters. “I checked,” the cabinet official dryly responds to Tapper’s otherwise ridiculous question. “I’m fully intact.”
  • October 24, 2017: During an appearance on Today to discuss the developing Niger situation, Corker reaffirms his previous criticisms of Trump — especially his use of Twitter — at great length:

    “When you send out tweets into the region to raise tensions, when you kneecap, which is what he’s done publicly, when you kneecap your secretary of state, whose diplomacy you have to depend upon… you really move our country into a binary choice which could lead to a world war. So, yes, I want him to support diplomatic efforts, not embarrass and really malign efforts that are underway to try to get some kind of a diplomatic solution.”

    Unsurprisingly, Corker’s comments — which also include the charge that Trump’s lunch with Senate Republicans that day is nothing more than a “photo op” — set Trump off. “Bob Corker, who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts,” he tweets. “Corker dropped out of the race in Tennesse when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!”

    Corker responds, describing the latest tweets as the “[s]ame untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff.” He then repeats this “untruthful” line during a brief hallway interview with CNN. Soon after this broadcast, Trump responds again on Twitter: “Sen. Corker is the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee, & look how poorly the U.S. has done. He doesn’t have a clue as the entire World WAS laughing and taking advantage of us. People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back. Now we move forward!”

There’s bound to be more between Trump and Corker before the latter leaves office in 2018. Check back here for further updates.

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