The Republican chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Bob Corker, came under attack from the president earlier today:
President Donald Trump on Sunday claimed that Sen. Bob Corker “begged” him for an endorsement and decided to not seek reelection when Trump declined to offer one — an aggressive attack on a still-powerful fellow Republican as the president struggles to jumpstart his legislative agenda.
“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),” Trump said in a series of tweets. “He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”
He added, “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!”
Trump’s Twitter feuds aren’t terribly interesting most of the time, but this public break with Corker could prove to be significant in a few ways. Mocking Corker like this doesn’t just make the senator less likely to support the president’s agenda, but given the small Republican majority the loss of even one vote could mean defeat for anything that Republicans want to do over the next year. Corker now has an added incentive to vote against whatever the president wants passed. Retiring already freed Corker to some extent to do and say what he wants, and a personal attack from Trump removes any remaining constraints. It can’t hurt that it seems that Trump was making up the entire story about Corker’s request for an endorsement. There was an early sign of this in the response from Corker’s Twitter account this morning:
It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.
— Senator Bob Corker (@SenBobCorker) October 8, 2017
Trump’s attack on Corker for being “responsible” for the nuclear deal echoes a ridiculous hawkish talking point. Corker was the co-sponsor of the bill that inserted Congress into the process of reviewing the nuclear deal, and it is that bill that requires the certification by the administration every three months. Corker was, in fact, a vocal opponent of the nuclear deal, and he sponsored the Corker-Cardin bill in order to give opponents an opportunity to interfere in a process in which Congress had no necessary role. If the bill was not what hard-line opponents of the deal wanted, there was nothing Corker could do about that, since his goal was to come up with a piece of legislation that Obama wouldn’t veto. As he often does, Trump has picked a fight with someone on his own side for no particular reason and committed another gratuitous act of self-sabotage.