Outgoing GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee has blasted President Donald Trump's leadership style, asserting that his temperament could harm the U.S. on a global scale. Corker and Trump were personal friends before engaging in a public feud on social media.
On Oct. 8, the relationship between Corker and Trump visibly frayed when the president took to social media to accuse the Tennessee senator of lacking a spine.
"Senator Bob Corker 'begged' me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee," Trump tweeted. "I said 'NO' and he dropped out (said he could not win without my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said 'NO THANKS.' He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!"
Corker responded on social media: "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."
Later that day, Corker criticized Trump during an interview, asserting that the president was treating his powers like "a reality show."
"He concerns me," Corker told The New York Times. "He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation."
Corker disputed Trump's claim that he had asked for an endorsement in a re-election bid. The Tennessee senator asserted that Trump had repeatedly asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek a third term.
On Sept. 26, Corker announced that he was retiring from the Senate and would not run in the 2018 midterm elections. As the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker is in an influential position in Congress without having to worry about a re-election campaign.
"I know that we will continue to have an impact for the remainder of our term, and I look forward to finding other ways to make a difference in the future," Corker said at the time, according to the Washington Examiner.
Corker had given Trump one of his earliest senatorial endorsements during the 2016 presidential race and the men were reportedly frequent golfing partners. Since Trump assumed office in January, though, Corker has become increasingly critical of the president's temperament and competence. On Oct. 6, he told CNN that he believed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and other Trump Cabinet members "help separate our country from chaos."
Now, Corker is openly stating that he believes Trump's leadership style is dangerous for national security, asserting the president was putting the U.S. "on the path to World War III."
"I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it's a situation of trying to contain [Trump]," Corker said.
"I know he has hurt, in several instances, he's hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out ... I don't think he appreciates that when the president of the United States speaks and says the things he does, the impact that it has around the world, especially in the region that he's addressing," the Tennessee senator added. "And so, yeah, it's concerning to me."
Corker alleged that the majority of his GOP colleagues were similarly alarmed about Trump's behavior but were unwilling to voice their concerns.
"Look, except for a few people, the vast majority of our caucus understand what we're dealing with here," Corker said. "Of course they understand the volatility that we're dealing with and the tremendous amount of work that it takes by people around him to keep him in the middle of the road."
On Oct. 9, White House counsel Kellyanne Conway blasted Corker's tweet about Trump's temperament, asserting that Republican criticisms of the president undermined his credibility worldwide.
"World leaders see that," Conway told Fox News. "We've all worked with Senator Corker over the years and we thank him for his service, but I find tweets like this to be incredibly irresponsible."
Former GOP congressional aide Ron Bonjean predicted that other Senate Republicans would not join Corker in publicly criticizing Trump even if they in fact shared his concerns, noting that the Tennessee senator was in a unique position because he was not concerned with re-election.
"While it may really bother other Senate Republicans and it’s unnerving that one of their own is being attacked, most aren’t retiring and know they must still work with the White House in order to accomplish legislative goals like tax reform or eventually answer to frustrated voters," Bonjean said.
Sources: CNN, Donald J. Trump/Twitter (2), Fox News, The New York Times (2), Senator Bob Corker/Twitter, Washington Examiner / Featured Image: Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr / Embedded Images: U.S. Embassy Moldova/Flickr, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff/Flickr