The feud between President Trump and Republican Sen. Bob Corker erupted with renewed fury Tuesday, with the president accusing the lawmaker of waging a personal vendetta against his tax-cut plan, and the lawmaker lamenting that Mr. Trump is an “untruthful” leader who is “debasing” America.
In a back-and-forth that played out in real time as the president tweeted comebacks to the lawmaker’s live TV interviews, Mr. Corker said Mr. Trump “has great difficulty with the truth on many issues.”
“Unfortunately, I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue,” the Foreign Relations Committee chairman told CNN. “I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in the way that he does.”
Mr. Corker said there’s “no way” that he would support Mr. Trump for president again.
“He’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion,” Mr. Corker said. “When his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, the name-calling, the debasement of our nation are the things he’ll be remembered most for. That’s regretful, and it affects young people.”
Within minutes, the president responded on Twitter.
“Sen. Corker is the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee, & look how poorly the U.S. has done,” Mr. Trump said. “He doesn’t have a clue as the entire World WAS laughing and taking advantage of us. People like ‘liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back. Now we move forward!”
He said Mr. Corker “helped President [Obama] give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catcher in Tennessee,” and “is now fighting Tax Cuts.”
The president also said Mr. Corker “dropped out of the race in Tennessee when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!”
In response, Mr. Corker tweeted, “Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president. #AlertTheDaycareStaff.”
Of the president’s claims about the Iran deal, Mr. Corker said, “They’re provable untruths. In the Iran deal, everybody knows the role I played there.”
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders asserted two weeks ago that Mr. Corker worked with House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration “to pave the way for that legislation” by crafting the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, which aimed to give Congress more control over the deal.
Mr. Corker also complained to reporters about Mr. Trump’s “attempted bullying, which everybody sees through.” He said he wished Mr. Trump would “act” more like a president.
“I’ve seen no evolution in an upward way,” Mr. Corker said. “It appears to me that it’s almost devolving.”
The president’s renewed criticism of the veteran Republican lawmaker comes as Mr. Trump prepares to visit the Capitol later Tuesday to pitch his tax-cut plan to Senate Republicans.
Mr. Corker hasn’t specifically come out against the proposed tax cuts, although he said he won’t support a plan that significantly adds to annual budget deficits. The tax-cut proposal is expected to add around $1.5 trillion in debt over a decade.
Asked about Mr. Trump’s declaration on Monday that he won’t allow Congress to meddle with retirement savings plans in the tax-cut legislation, Mr. Corker said on ABC News, “What I hope is going to happen is the president will leave this effort, if you will, to the tax-writing committees, let them do their work and not begin taking things off the table that ought to be debated in these committees at the proper time.”
The president said the plan will not affect 401(k) retirement accounts. Some in Congress have been considering limiting tax-deferred contributions to such savings plans, which would provide the government with more revenue.
“They’re working with me right now, interestingly on tax reform. I want to make sure it’s done properly,” the senator said.
Mr. Corker also said Tuesday that he doesn’t have any regrets about a tense exchange with Mr. Trump earlier this month.
“I don’t make comments that I haven’t thought about,” Mr. Corker said.
Mr. Corker and Mr. Trump got into a heated exchange on social media earlier this month after the president said on Twitter that Mr. Corker “didn’t have the guts” to seek re-election. The senator quickly responded by calling the White House “an adult daycare center” adding that “someone obviously missed their shift,” due to the president’s derogatory tweets.
Mr. Corker said in a New York Times interview later that evening that Mr. Trump’s foreign policy decisions, such as slamming foreign leaders on Twitter, could put the U.S. “on the path to World War III.”
The Tennessee Republican said Mr. Trump’s decision to air his grievances on Twitter is putting the U.S. “on a path to combat.”
“Really, when you look at the fact that we’ve got this issue in North Korea and the president continues to kneecap his diplomatic representative, the secretary of state, and really move him away from successful diplomatic negotiations with China, which is key to this, you’re taking us on a path to combat,” Mr. Corker said, referring to Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson.
“I would just like for [President Trump] to leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that’s constructive for our country, the region and the world,” he said.
Mr. Corker said that even on a domestic level he doesn’t see the president rising to the office of the presidency, as he had hoped Mr. Trump would do.
“It appears to be the governing model of this White House to purposely divide. That’s what happened after the Virginia incident. It’s to consolidate his base, not to bring people together and to bring out the better angels of those people in our country,” he said on CBS News.
“This is a great nation and without us doing that, it really not only effects us and future generations, but it effects the world.”