President Trump bashed Sen. Bob Corker on Friday for questioning his competence to lead, making the influential Tennessee Republican his latest target as he battles with a host of GOP lawmakers.
“Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18. Tennessee not happy!” the president tweeted Friday morning.
In Chattanooga, Tenn., last week, Corker leveled harsh criticism at the president.
“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful – and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat,” Corker reportedly said at a Rotary Club meeting in his district on Aug. 17. “He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.”
Corker told reporters that Trump has “not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today.”
The comments were made during a week when numerous Republicans were joining Democrats in criticizing his response to the violence in Charlottesville. After a counter-protester was killed during a white supremacist rally there, Trump took heat for blaming "both sides" even as he condemned neo-Nazis.
The Corker-Trump tensions reflect a deterioration in a relationship that was once close. Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, had been considered for secretary of state.
The president also has attacked Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., another Trump critic in the party, while sparring for days with Senate GOP Leader Mitch McConnell.
Even before Trump's tweet, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders was questioned over Corker’s statement at Thursday’s press briefing.
“I think that’s a ridiculous and outrageous claim and doesn’t dignify a response from this podium,” Sanders responded.