As President Trump headed to Capitol Hill Tuesday to get lawmakers on board with his tax plan, at least one GOP senator was likely to keep his distance.
Trump and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., have publicly hurled personal insults at one another for several months. Corker has called the White House an “adult day care center,” and Trump opined that Corker “couldn’t get elected dog catcher.”
Corker still attended Tuesday's lunch with Trump and Senate Republicans to discuss tax reform. But Trump and Corker, who is not running for re-election next year, most likely skipped the hugs and handshakes.
Here is a look at the Trump versus Corker tiff.
Despite a cozy friendship during the presidential campaign, the relationship between Corker and Trump publicly soured after the president’s response to the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in August. Trump initially blamed “both sides” – the white nationalists and the counter-protesters – for violent clashes.
“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Corker told reporters.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders initially called Corker’s remarks “ridiculous” and an “outrageous claim.” Trump eventually responded on Twitter.
“Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in ’18,” Trump tweeted on Aug. 25. “Tennessee not happy!”
At the time, Corker had not yet announced that he wouldn’t run for reelection.
Corker eventually told NBC News that he stood by what he said at the time. Corker added that he discussed the comments with Trump for “about five minutes” in what Corker described as a “kind of humorous” conversation.
Adult day care center
About a week after Corker said he had a “humorous” conversation with Trump about his public rebuke in August, Trump lambasted the outgoing senator on Twitter.
“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). He also wanted to be Secretary of State,” Trump said. “I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”
“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 continued. “Bob Corker gave us the Iran Deal, & that's about it. We need HealthCare, we need Tax Cuts/Reform, we need people that can get the job done!”
Corker responded with his own tweet.
“It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center,” Corker said. “Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”
Corker’s nickname is born
Corker went after Trump in a wide-ranging interview with the New York Times, in which he said Trump was treating the presidency like a “reality show” and warned that the president could be putting the U.S. “on the path to World War III.”
“He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker said.
Two days later, Trump dubbed the senator “Liddle’ Bob Corker” as he accused the newspaper of recording the interview with Corker without his knowledge.
“The Failing [New York Times] set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation. Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!” Trump tweeted.
The New York Times released audio of the interview in which Corker says he knows his aides are recording the interview and hoped the reporters were as well.
Corker ‘couldn’t get elected dog catcher’
The brouhaha escalated Tuesday morning when Corker blasted the president on several morning shows, and Trump took his criticisms of the senator to Twitter.
Corker said on NBC's "Today" show that the Republican-led Congress should set the course on taxes after Trump shot down at least one GOP idea on retirement plans on Monday.
Asked if Trump should leave well enough alone, Corker said, "I think that's the best way for us to have success."
Corker also told ABC that when it comes to foreign policy, he wished Trump would “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.”
“Bob Corker, who helped President [Obama] give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn’t get elected dog catch in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts,” Trump responded on Twitter. “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!”
“Isn’t it sad that lightweight Senator Bob Corker, who couldn’t get re-elected in the Great State of Tennessee, will now fight Tax Cuts plus!” Trump added.
“Sen. Corker is the incompetent head of the Foreign Relations Committee, & look how poorly the U.S. has done. He doesn’t have a clue as the entire World WAS laughing and taking advantage of us,” Trump continued. “People like liddle’ Bob Corker have set the U.S. way back. Now we move forward!”
Corker, again, responded with a single tweet.
“Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president,” he said, using the hashtag #AlertTheDaycareStaff in an apparent throwback to his earlier tweet.
Corker wouldn’t support Trump again
After Trump’s tweetstorm, Corker told reporters that Trump is “utterly untruthful” as he avoided blatantly calling the president a “liar.”
He also told Fox News that “there’s no question” that Trump is “debasing” the country and said his “political model … is to divide.”
And when asked by CNN if he would support Trump’s presidential campaign again, Corker said, “Let’s just put it this way, I would not do that again.”
Trump continued to assail the senator on Twitter Wednesday morning as he contended that both Corker and Sen. Jeff Flake – who announced a day prior that he would also not seek reelection – “had zero chance” of being elected in their prospective states again.
“The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected,” Trump tweeted. “Now act so hurt [and] wounded!”
Trump also said his meeting with GOP senators to discuss tax reform “was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA” – aside from Flake and Corker.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.