Bob Corker Versus Trump: Escalating Conflicts

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Senator Bob Corker
(Flickr/doe-oakridge) US Senator Bob Corker
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On Sunday, Senator Bob Corker called the White House “an adult day care center” in a tweet. He noted that “someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Corker was responding to a Sunday twitterstorm from President Donald Trump. Trump said Corker had “begged” Trump for an endorsement, and that the Tennessee Senator didn’t have the guts to run for reelection next year.

In recent months, Corker and Trump’s relationship seems to have taken a nosedive. Now that Corker has announced his intention to not run for re-election, he may be freer in expressing his views.

Bob Corker and Trump: The History

As the Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Corker was one among those who discussed foreign policy issues with candidate Trump. Once Trump became president, Corker’s foreign policy expertise meant he was “in the mix” to be Trump’s Secretary of State.

In addition to supporting eventual Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Corker was on board with Trump’s legislative agenda for much of the early months of the Trump Presidency. However, Corker and Trump began to have public disagreements this summer.

In May, Corker questioned the “lack of discipline” and “chaos” in the White House. This came after reported leaks by Trump himself to Russia.

After Trump’s Charlottesville response, Corker questioned Trump’s “stability” and “competence.” Those remarks drew a sharp response from the White House.

Most recently, Sunday’s Trump twitterstorm was in response to earlier Corker comments about Tillerson. Corker had painted the embattled Secretary of State as one of three Trump officials keeping “our country from chaos.”

Bob Corker and Trump:  Legislative Divergence

Starting in May, Bob Corker began to be bolder in deviating from Trump administration legislative positions. This notably happened in the fiscal and foreign policy areas.

For Corker, fiscal discipline is a key principle. He is a member of the Senate Budget Committee. He has already announced that he will not support tax plans that add to the deficit.

Also, Corker has signaled his differences with the President on key foreign policy issues. These include Russia, Iran, Trump’s travel ban, and State Department budget cuts.

Corker pushed through a bipartisan deal on Russia sanctions that Trump reluctantly signed. Trump’s attempts to nix the Iran deal may meet with resistance by Corker.

Trump’s initial travel ban attracted criticism from Corker. Further, Corker termed Trump’s State Department truncated budget proposal as a “total waste of time.”

Bob Corker Opposition to Trump: Meaningful?

Corker will still be a Senator for more than a year. As Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman, Corker has power over nominations, treaties, and international relations budgets.

If Tillerson leaves, Corker might be an influential voice on the next Secretary of State. He is also reportedly working on ways to manage the future of the Iran deal.

Without fear of a primary challenge, Corker could also take more of an active role on pushing for Russia investigations. In the past, he has seemed less concerned.

Nevertheless, we must keep in mind that Corker has voted 87.5 percent of the time with the Trump position on most issues. He is no John McCain or Susan Collins— yet.


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