Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) on Tuesday said that President Donald Trump’s tendency to take advice from “all over the country” without the supervision of his chief of staff had led to a chaotic environment in the White House.
At a breakfast with reporters hosted by the Christian Science Monitor, Corker said that the Trump administration had “actually done a pretty good job implementing” congressionally-mandated sanctions on Russia, but also that Trump was inconsistent in his beliefs.
“Forget sanctions on Russia, I can name probably 10 other things where one day we’re doing one thing, the next day we’re doing another,” he said.
The Tennessee senator, who has sparred with the President in the past and announced his retirement in September of last year, said the fact that Trump gets “a lot” of unvetted input has “got to be a nightmare” for Chief of Staff John Kelly.
“At night there are people calling in from all over the country [and] he’s calling them. The chief of staff doesn’t know who he’s talking with. It’s a different kind of environment,” Corker said.
“My staff spends the whole week making sure I’m meeting with people that are not crackpots,” he added. “The President is very entrepreneurial, he gets input at 11 o’clock at night, let’s say, comes in in the morning and he’s got a different mindset.”
The comments came in response to a question about the recent dissonance between the White House and United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley’s statements on additional planned sanctions on Russia. Haley said Sunday that more sanctions were on the way. Trump reportedly paused those sanctions just hours later. The President’s chief economic adviser, Larry Kudlow, said Tuesday that there may have been “some momentary confusion” on Haley’s part. Haley responded later in the day: “With all due respect, I don’t get confused.” Kudlow reportedly apologized to Haley for his comments.
Referring specifically to the administration’s mixed messages on additional sanctions, Corker said “some of it could be that he’s getting some cautionary advice from people who are around him who care about us not getting into a world war right now, and some of it I would attribute to just the constant chaos that occurs, and just the way the decision-making process is, or isn’t.”
“I wish he’d be tougher rhetorically on Russia, but I see the things we’re actually doing and they’re pretty strong,” he added later.
Toward the end of the breakfast, reporters asked Corker about his plans after leaving the Senate. Perhaps he could be Trump’s next chief of staff?
“Conjecture is bad for your health,” Corker said. “I go to bed early, too.”