Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) doesn’t think his ability to get things done in Congress hinges on his relationship with President Donald Trump.
Commenting on a feud that’s been building for “a long time,” and recently escalated when Corker called the White House an “adult day care,” the senator said his testy relationship with Trump is “irrelevant to me carrying out the responsibilities” he has during his last 14 months in office.
“I’m constantly in touch with (Rex) Tillerson, with (Mike) Pence, with (Steven) Mnuchin, who was just in my office recently on the tax issues,” Corker said, appearing on MSNBC Thursday, answering questions about whether his severed relationship with Trump would be detrimental to his work leading the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.
“To be honest, my relationship with the President is not relevant. I’m dealing with the principals who conduct foreign policy, and I hope more and more he’ll leave these issues to them,” he said. “The way we feel about each other, which is obviously not particularly positive, is irrelevant to me carrying out the responsibilities I have here. Totally irrelevant.”
After announcing his retirement last month, Corker has not held back in criticizing the President. On Tuesday, the same day that Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) delivered a blistering speech from the Senate floor about Trump, Corker made several comments saying he would not support Trump in the future and that he doesn’t think the President is a role model for children.
Corker said the public disagreements are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his frustrations with Trump.
“This has been building for a long time. I had a private dinner with the President, I’ve played golf with the President, I’ve intervened when the staff has asked me to intervene, when he’s getting ready to go off the rails, which happens, as you know, often,” he said. “ Look, I’ve done a lot of things privately. This has just continued to build.”
Corker said Trump’s public “kneecapping” of his secretary of state is what pushed him to go more public with his irritation, but he doesn’t want his comments to continue to be part of the news cycle.
“Typically presidents try to be aspirational in what they do, they try to bring out the best in our country,” he said. “That, to me, is not happening, and I’m going to continue to rail against that in an appropriate way. I don’t want to have an ongoing, quote unquote, feud. … One thing I don’t get up in the morning and think about is what’s happening at the White House relative to outbursts.”