The whole clip’s worth watching but things don’t really start rolling until two minutes in. I’ve never heard a senator talk like this about a sitting president from his own party. It’s not just an attack on Trump’s competence and honesty, it’s personal: He refers repeatedly to the “debasement” of the country and answers flatly “no” when asked if he thinks Trump is a role model. Would you support him again for president, asks reporter Manu Raju? Um, nope, says Corker. You get the feeling by the end that Raju could have asked him literally anything pejorative about Trump and gotten no worse than a dodge in response. “Do you think the pee tape is real?” “I, uh, I’m gonna decline comment at this time.”
If you’re keeping score this morning, this interview happened after the first round of punch-ups between Trump and Corker that Ed blogged about earlier. POTUS must have been watching CNN as it aired because he’s now followed up with this:
These dudes are having lunch together today. Trump’s scheduled to swing by the weekly Senate Republican luncheon to rally the troops for tax reform. We’re practically guaranteed another round of Trump vs. Corker before the day is out. Maybe more than one.
Uh, is tax reform still happening?
From GOP, estab-friendly insider: "Many GOP senators friendly to Corker are furious at his latest comments, making tax reform harder"
— Josh Kraushaar (@HotlineJosh) October 24, 2017
The timing of Corker going after Trump this morning is awfully curious. Was he trying to bait him into overreacting in hopes of blowing up the tax effort? Maybe he forced a confrontation today because he’s annoyed that his Republican colleagues haven’t backed up his criticisms of Trump and he wants to pressure them into taking sides at the luncheon. It’s an open secret that they badmouth Trump privately. Possibly Corker’s tired of being cheered on behind closed doors only to have his Senate friends cower when Trump’s around.
But then Corker’s done plenty of cowering himself. Anti-Trumpers are nodding along with his shots at Trump here but also reminding each other that there have been no surprises with POTUS since he took office. All of his behavior was predictable last year when he was a candidate. Corker endorsed him anyway and was happy to stay quiet while he was considered for the position of Secretary of State. He did finally start speaking up about Trump sporadically this summer but it wasn’t until he announced he wasn’t running again for Senate, freeing him from any electoral consequences of his criticism, that he really let loose. Corker’s no braver than the Republicans sniping at Trump in private. He just has less to lose now.
Exit question: Why does Trump keep putting an apostrophe at the end of “liddle” when describing Corker? That’s the second time he’s done it in a tweet. What letter does he think the apostrophe is replacing?
CORKER UNLOADS: He would NOT support Trump again; says Trump NOT a role model; won't say if he trusts Trump w nukes https://t.co/oAGIWVZ8P9
— Manu Raju (@mkraju) October 24, 2017