An enraged President Donald Trump and a prominent Republican senator who fears the country could be edging toward “chaos” engaged in an intense and vitriolic back-and-forth bashing on social media Sunday, a remarkable airing of their party’s profound rifts.
In political discourse that might once have seemed inconceivable, the GOP’s foreign policy expert in the Senate felt compelled to answer his president’s barbs by tweeting: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Trump earlier had laid bare his perceived grievances against retiring Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., in a series of stinging tweets that contended Corker:
—was “largely responsible for the horrendous” Iran nuclear deal, which the Democratic Obama administration negotiated and Corker considered badly flawed. The senator also tried to require that President Barack Obama submit the accord to Congress for approval.
—intended to obstruct the White House agenda, though he offered no evidence for saying he expected Corker “to be a negative voice.”
—”begged” for Trump’s endorsement in his 2018 re-election, then opted against seeking a third term when Trump declined, showing the senator “didn’t have the guts to run.” The Associated Press reported that Trump, in a private meeting in September, had urged Corker to run. Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, said Sunday that Trump called Corker last Monday to ask that he reconsider his decision to leave the Senate. Trump “reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times,” the aide said.
—wanted to be secretary of state, and “I said ‘NO THANKS,'” said Trump, who picked Exxon Mobil’s Rex Tillerson for that Cabinet post. Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, was mentioned as a possible pick after the election.
Corker always had been one to speak his mind, and even before Sunday’s verbal volleys, his new free agent status promised to make Trump and the party nervous. Already, there was the prospect of even more elbow room to say what he wants and to vote how he pleases over the next 15 months as Trump and the party’s leaders on Capitol Hill struggle to get their agenda on track.