Bob Corker

Corker says his criticism of Trump is ‘constructive,’ not ‘destructive’ — and gets White House cheers

While Sen. Bob Corker may be gaining a reputation as one of few Republican congressmen willing to publicly criticize Donald Trump – a notable example being his recent declaration that the White House is in a “downward spiral” – the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman tells BuzzFeed he makes the same points to Trump and his staff in frequent private discussions.

Coincidentally(?), Corker issued a press release Sunday basically praising Trump’s first trip overseas — after speaking with the president “at length.”

Excerpt from BuzzFeed:

Days (before the “downward spiral” remark), Corker had spoken to Trump over the phone about the firing of FBI director James Comey — an incident the Tennessee Republican publicly said would “raise questions.” And in a previous late-April private dinner, Corker said he made it clear to Trump that the turmoil in the White House was making it harder for Republicans to move forward with anything in Congress.

“I actually shared many of the same concerns, OK? Respectfully, of course,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with BuzzFeed News Wednesday afternoon.

“We’ve got close relations and talked frankly with people (at the White House) often,” he continued, repeating two words for emphasis: “Frankly. Often.”

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Corker criticizes ‘awkward process’ of closed-door Senate development of Obamacare replacement

There has been some media attention to Sen. Bob Corker’s recent criticism of secrecy surrounding development of a Republican U.S. Senate plan to replace and repeal Obamacare – a process where fellow Tennessee Sen. Lamar Alexander has been actively engaged, though the committee Alexander chairs was bypassed.

Corker’s comments, as initially reported by the Huffington Post Tuesday:

“It’s a very awkward process, at best,” he told reporters. “There are no experts. There’s no actuarials. … Typically, in a hearing, you’d have people coming in and you’d also have the media opining about if a hearing took place, and X came in and made comments.”

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Democratic candidate faults Corker for ‘timid words of hollow (Trump) disapproval’

Democratic U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler campaigned in Chattanooga and Williamson County Wednesday, reports The Tennessean, contending that Republican incumbent Sen. Bob Corker did not go far enough in his recent statement saying the Donald Trump White House is in a “downward spiral.”

“I think at this point we heard that we are in a downward spiral, and it’s important to note he said ‘they’ … Sen. Corker tried very hard to become a part of this administration, and now he’s trying to distance himself from it. But we need more than timid words of hollow disapproval,” Mackler said.

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Democrat Mackler’s introductory U.S. Senate campaign video

Posted on Democratic U.S. Senate candidate James Mackler’s campaign website, the video is mostly promotional bio stuff – he’s a veteran, has a family, loves Tennessee, etc. – but also bashes Donald Trump and incumbent Republican Sen. Bob Corker,  “another millionaire politician looking to move up.”

 

Corker: Trump administration ‘downward spiral’ (UPDATE: Alexander kinda critical, too)

Among congressional Republicans, Tennessee’s Sen. Bob Corker had one of the stronger  negative reactions Monday to reports that President Donald Trump has revealed sensitive intelligence to Russia’s foreign minister and U.S. ambassador and is widely quoted today in national media.

From CNN:

“They are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that’s happening,” Corker told reporters. “You know the shame of it is there’s a really good national security team in place, there’s good productive things that are underway through them, and through others. But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think — it creates a worrisome environment.”

From Politico:

“To compromise a source is something that you just don’t do,” Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee told reporters, adding that he didn’t know yet whether the report was true. “That’s why we keep the information that we get from intelligence sources so close, is to prevent that from happening.”

Corker was referring to a report in The Washington Post on Monday that Trump divulged highly classified information involving the Islamic State that officials had obtained through an intelligence-sharing arrangement with a U.S. partner. The arrangement was so sensitive that the information was not even shared with other U.S. allies, according to the Post.

The report, which the White House denied, came on the heels of Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey last week. Corker told other news outlets the White House is “in a downward spiral right now” and needs to get things “under control.”

UPDATE, via The Tennessean: In a cryptic statement Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander R-Tenn., described the global impact of White House actions.

“Those working in the White House would do well to remember that just a little tilt there can create earthquakes out in the country and around the world,” Alexander said.

Politico lists Corker, Fleischmann as having potential conflicts in stock trades

Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Chuck Fleischmann, both Chattanooga Republicans, are highlighted by Politico in a listing congressmen whose stock trading raises a question of conflicting interests with their lawmaking activity.

The article, bearing the headline “Reckless stock trading leaves Congress rife with conflicts,” reports that Political found “28 House members and six senators each traded more than 100 stocks in the past two years, placing them in the potential cross hairs of a conflict of interest on a regular basis. And a handful of lawmakers, some of them frequent traders and some not, disproportionately trade in companies that also have an interest in their work on Capitol Hill.”

Here are excerpts from the report on Corker and Fleischmann:

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UPDATED: Most TN GOP congressmen silent on FBI director dismissal

With the exception of Sens. Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, Tennessee’s Republican members of Congress – usually quick to send out press releases with commentary on most any matter getting some national attention — have been silent on President Donald Trump’s firing of FBI director James Comey (as noted by WPLN).

The state’s two Democratic congressmen, however, have been quick to criticize the presidential action publicly.

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Corker: ‘We’re not going to do a Russia sanctions bill’

Excerpt from a Politico article:

The leaders of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee have reached a decision that’s sure to disappoint Russia hawks: They’re not taking up a Russia sanctions bill anytime soon.

Instead, Committee Chairman Bob Corker of Tennessee and ranking Democrat Ben Cardin of Maryland have agreed to move forward on a measure to counter Russian influence in Eastern Europe without using sanctions as well as an Iran sanctions bill.

… “We’re not going to do a Russia sanctions bill,” Corker told POLITICO on Monday. “The ranking member and I are in strong agreement on a pathway forward and that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to do an Iran sanctions bill. It’ll be done toward the end of this work period. We’re also working together on a bill to push back against Russia in Europe and what they’re doing, and those are the two courses of action that we’re taking.”

… The deal between Corker and Cardin resolves a point of contention between Corker and some Democrats on the Foreign Relations panel, who wanted to move Iran and Russia sanctions together, according to multiple Democratic Senate aides.

The Iran sanctions bill was introduced in March by Corker and has bipartisan support. It’s in retaliation for Iran’s ballistic missile development, support for U.S.-designated terrorist groups and human rights violations.

Alexander, Corker, Duncan seek fed focus on alleged defective guardrails

Three Tennessee congressmen – Sens. Lamar Alexander and Bob Corker, along with Rep. John Duncan Jr. – are asking federal officials to consider revoking their approval for the use of highway guardrails linked to four fatalities in Tennessee, reports WJHL-TV.

In the letter, they asked FHWA Acting Deputy Administrator Butch Waidelich, Jr. to consider revoking its letter of eligibility for the X-Lite Terminal Guard rail issued in 2011.

The eligibility letter indicates the product has been tested and is eligible for federal reimbursements for states that use it.

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Nashville lawyer/Iraq combat veteran seeks Democratic U.S. Senate nomination

News release from James Mackler campaign

NASHVILLE – James Mackler, decorated Iraq combat veteran that served in the 101st Airborne Division, today announced his candidacy for U.S. Senate. James will seek the Democratic nomination to run against two-term incumbent U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN).

“I am running to restore respect, honesty, and, most importantly, integrity in Washington,” said James. “Our country has become so divided that our leaders refuse to work together to solve our most important problems. As a veteran, I know first-hand the strength of teamwork, cooperation, and the benefits of diversity to accomplish even the most difficult mission.

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ABOUT THIS BLOG

Former Knoxville News Sentinel capitol bureau chief Tom Humphrey writes about Tennessee politics, government, and legislative news.

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