President Donald Trump attacked Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in a Sunday morning Twitter tirade, alleging that the Tennessee Republican “begged” him for an endorsement, did not receive it and “didn’t have the guts” to run for re-election.
Trump’s public lashing of a fellow Republican comes after Corker made headlines last week when he starkly suggested that the president needed adult supervision on his national security team. In an extraordinary statement, Corker told reporters that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John F. Kelly “are those people that help separate our country from chaos.”
Trump, who has little tolerance for public criticism and prides himself on counterpunching those who cross him, fired off a trio of tweets Sunday morning attacking Corker, who announced last month that he plans to retire and not seek reelection in 2018.
Trump tweeted, “Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. 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! Hence, I would fully expect Corker to be a negative voice and stand in the way of our great agenda. Didn’t have the guts to run!”
Corker responded Sunday to Trump’s attacks by tweeting, “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Corker was a prominent supporter of Trump’s 2016 campaign, and Trump considered him a potential running mate and secretary of state. Corker was one of only a few senators to develop a personal relationship with Trump and his family, but tensions between the two men flared over the summer.
In August, Corker criticized Trump’s handling of the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, saying, “The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful.”
Then, as now, Corker became a subject of Trump’s ire. In response to the senator’s “stability” and “competence” comments, Trump tweeted, “Tennessee not happy!”
Corker is not the only Republican senator to come under attack from the presidential bully pulpit. In recent months, Trump has gone after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Ky., and Sens. Lindsey Graham, S.C., John McCain, Ariz., and Jeff Flake, Ariz., with cutting and sometimes personal insults.
Republican lawmakers have voiced exasperation that Trump is spending his time attacking senators he will need as allies if he hopes to sign any signature legislation, such as the tax-cut plan his administration has been trumpeting.
Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Sunday that he enjoys working with Corker and that the senator feels free to speak his mind now that he is not seeking reelection.