Corker Says He Stands By Harsh Criticism Of Trump After Charlottesville

Susan Walsh/AP

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN), who announced last month that he will not run for reelection, on Sunday said he stands by his criticism of President Donald Trump’s response to violence that broke out at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Corker in August said Trump had “not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”

“He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today, and he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that,” Corker said at the time.

“Look, I stand by those comments,” Corker said on NBC News’ “Meet the Press.”

Corker said he does not “make comments like that without thinking about them.”

He praised White House chief of staff John Kelly for introducing an “air of discipline.”

“You know I don’t. I chose the words, I stand by those words,” Corker said. “When I met with the President a week ago Friday, I said, ‘Mr. President, I stand by what I said.'”

“What did he say to you?” Chuck Todd asked.

“Oh, it was kind of humorous. I mean, it was. We spent about five minutes on this topic,” Corker replied.

“He remembers any slight,” Todd said.

“Oh, he remembered it. He said, ‘you called me incompetent,'” Corker said. “I knew it was coming. I said, ‘Here is what I said, and I stand by these comments, okay? I stand by what I said.'”

“In five minutes, we moved on to the other topic,” Corker added.

Trump in August lashed out at Corker for his criticism, which the President called a “strange statement.”

“Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18. Tennessee not happy!” Trump tweeted.

Corker in September announced that he would not run for another term in office.

Of his decision to retire, Corker told Todd, “I told people, if I knew they were going to say so many nice things about me, I would’ve retired earlier.”

“I mean, it’s been wonderful,” he said. “Look, I think I’m going to have more impact over the next 15 months than I’ve had in the last ten years.”

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Esme Cribb is a newswriter for TPM in New York City. She can be found on Twitter @emquiry and reached by email at esme@talkingpointsmemo.com.

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