- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 21, 2017

Sen. Bob Corker said Thursday that he has a “newfound empathy” for President Trump and his ongoing complaints about “fake news.”

Mr. Corker was defending himself against reports of a so-called “Corker kickback,” alleging that the Tennessee Republican’s eventual “yes” vote the final GOP tax bill hinged on a late provision that he stood to benefit personally from.

Mr. Corker has insisted he had nothing to do with the provision, telling Fox News that the “totally debunked” reports have him using the word “fake news” for the first time ever.

“I told him that I’d had a healthy respect for the media,” he said, recalling a conversation he had with Mr. Trump Wednesday morning. “I deal with them all the time and, you know, to attack the media has not been something I’ve done. But I had a newfound empathy for him in watching how a totally debunked story” spread in the media.

“The guys that actually wrote this bill knew I had nothing whatsoever to do with it. But then you have this reporter who says this. All of a sudden people that I respect in the news media, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, people start printing this as if it’s true,” he said. “A social media phenomenon generates from this and I’ve never ever in my life used the word ‘fake news’ until today. I actually understand what it is the president has been dealing with.”

The last-minute addition to the tax bill extends the tax benefits for pass-through businesses to commercial real estate companies with few employees. Mr. Corker, who has significant real-estate holdings, said he was unaware of the provision before he changed his initial “no” vote to a “yes” and that he had nothing to do with its inclusion. His Republican colleagues, including Rep. Kevin Brady and Sen. Orrin Hatch, corroborated his story.

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