President Donald Trump has deepened the rift between himself and two powerful Republicans, one an influential member of Congress and the other a member of his Cabinet. The president mocked the physical height of GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee on social media and suggested during an interview that he would easily best Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in an IQ test.
On Oct. 10, Trump took to social media to blast an interview that Corker had given to The New York Times.
"The Failing [New York Times] set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation," Trump tweeted out. "Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!"
Trump's description of Corker as "Liddle' Bob" was apparently a reference to the senator's physical stature. Corker is 5 feet 7 inches tall. Trump had reportedly considered Corker for a Cabinet position during his presidential transition but told associates that he believed the senator was too short, according to The New York Times.
On Oct. 9, Corker heavily criticized Trump's temperament and leadership style during an interview with the Times. Corker said he believed Trump was steering the U.S. "towards World War III with the kinds of comments that he's making."
The Tennessee senator also indicated at the beginning of the interview that he knew that he was being recorded, telling the reporter: "I understand we're on the record."
Corker is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. His relationship with the president publicly soured after they traded disdainful messages on Twitter.
Meanwhile, Trump also continued the public perception that he and his secretary of state were not on good terms. On Oct. 10, Trump stated during an interview that he did not believe reports that Tillerson allegedly called him a "moron."
"I think it's fake news," Trump told Forbes. "But if he did [say] that, I guess we'll have to compare IQ tests. And I can tell you who is going to win."
On Oct. 4, NBC News reported that Tillerson had attempted to resign from the State Department out of frustration with Trump. The secretary of state had reportedly questioned the president's intelligence before Pentagon staff members. Following the report, Tillerson held a press conference to dispute accounts that he had considered resigning but did not deny that he called Trump a "moron."
Later on Oct. 10, Trump was asked by reporters at the White House if his latest remarks about Tillerson's IQ undercut the secretary of state.
"No, I didn't undercut anybody," Trump responded, according to The Hill. "I don't believe in undercutting people."