WaPost: Corker Slams Trump For ‘Public Castration’ Of Tillerson Amid NK Tension

FILE -- In this photo from Friday, Oct. 11, 2013, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill in Washington about the government stalemate. Corker, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, removed himself Wednesday from consideration as Donald Trump’s vice-presidential running mate.   (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

The Trump-Corker feud rages on.

Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) sees Trump’s “public castration” of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as undermining efforts to make China an ally in preventing nuclear destruction by North Korea, according to the Washington Post.

Corker’s Friday comments come just days after his on-the-record interview with the New York Times where he said the President has acted “like he’s doing ‘The Apprentice’ or something” and that Trump could set the country “on the path to World War III.” Trump retorted by saying he “[w]as made to sound a fool” by the Times.

Corker argues Trump’s mistreatment of Tillerson invites “binary” situations in which the U.S. will have to choose between war and nuke threats from North Korea or Iran.

“You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice,” Corker told WaPost in a phone interview Friday.

Corker also called out Trump’s tweets toying with these fraught tensions “very irresponsible.”

“The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible. But it’s the first part” — the “castration” of Tillerson — “that I am most exercised about.”

Corker feels Tillerson has been key in paving the path towards quiet diplomacy with China away from confrontation with North Korea.

“The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way. Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal,” Corker said. “When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart. Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table.”

Earlier this month, Trump said he told Tillerson to “save his energy” when it comes to negotiations with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and that the United States will “do what has to be done” instead.

Trump maintained on Wednesday that he and Tillerson have “a very good relationship,” despite reports that the secretary of state wanted to resign this summer and called Trump a “moron” when the President said he wanted to expand the U.S. nuclear arsenal.

Corker, who announced in late September that his current Senate term would be his last, has been a rare voice within the Republican conference for his open criticism of the President’s conduct in office.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Summer Concepcion is the front page editor of Talking Points Memo based in New York City. Previously, she covered the 2016 presidential election for Fusion and worked as a researcher at The Investigative Fund of The Nation Institute. She's an LA native and former Chicago transplant. Reach her at summer@talkingpointsmemo.com
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