Corker Dismisses GOP Lunch With Trump As ‘Nothing More’ Than A ‘Photo Op’

Tom Williams/CQPHO

As Senate Republicans prepared to meet with President Donald Trump on Tuesday during their weekly caucus lunch, Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) told NBC News on Monday that the meeting is just a photo op.

“Tomorrow’s a photo op. Nothing more, nothing less, and I think to read anything more into it would be spending a lot of time on something that shouldn’t be spent a lot of time on,” he told NBC News.

“It’s going to be up and down for the next three years,” he added. “That’s just the way it’s going to be. I don’t read anything anymore other than a photo op. ”

Corker told NBC News that Congress must take the reins on tax reform.

“You got to remember, tax reform is our agenda. It’s the Senate’s agenda. It’s a House agenda. This was something that’s been on our agenda long before the President ran for president. So, to act as if it’s his agenda, it’s our agenda,” the senator said. “You understand? I mean, that’s — tomorrow’s a photo op. Okay?”

The senator, who is set to retire at the end of his term, has recently spoken out against Trump, lamenting that the President undermines his staff. Trump in return has criticized Corker, claiming that the senator decided against seeking another term because he could not win Trump’s endorsement. Corker has disputed that narrative.

Corker also made the rounds on morning news shows Tuesday morning, reiterating his concerns about the President’s approach to foreign policy. On NBC’s “Today,” Corker said that Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly work to “contain” Trump, but that Trump “kneecaps” Tillerson.

“I do think when you have the kind of issue we’re dealing with in North Korea where we have a very unstable leader there, 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 to really bring China to the table to do the things that need to be done, back-channelling in some cases to North Korea — when you kneecap that effort, you really move our country into a binary choice, which could lead to a world war,” Corker said on NBC. “I want him to support diplomatic efforts, not embarrass and really malign efforts that are underway to try to get some kind of diplomatic solution here, and I think most people would agree with that.”

The senator echoed this on ABC’s “Good Morning America,” saying that he would like Trump “to leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that’s constructive for our country, the region, and the world.”

After Corker’s appearances on morning news shows, Trump quickly fired back at the senator with tweets claiming that Corker could not get re-elected to the Senate without his help.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Caitlin MacNeal is a News Writer based in Washington, D.C. Before joining TPM, Caitlin interned and wrote for the Huffington Post, the Sunlight Foundation and Slate. She is a graduate of Georgetown University.
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