foreign relations

Burchett offered check (declined) and apology (accepted) after Saudi teen’s attack

Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, a candidate for the 2nd Congressional seat being vacated by Rep. John J. “Jimmy” Duncan, was one of several motorists who came under attack from a Saudi Arabian citizen who recently enrolled at the University of Tennessee to study nursing, reports the News Sentinel. The youth’s lawyer says he suffered “an unexpected mental breakdown” in the episode, which warrants say involved pounding on cars and grabbing at the drivers as they passed him on a street near the UT Knoxville campus.

“Did they screen this guy at all for mental health issues?” Burchett said Friday of 19-year-old Nofl Hassan Alatyah. “I’m not getting any answers, and I’m very frustrated.”

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Corker reported critical of Secretary of State Tillerson

From a Politico article:

Sen. Bob Corker, having already turned on the president, has a new target for his frustration: Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The Tennessee Republican and Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman has voiced concerns about Tillerson’s management of the State Department and his still-fuzzy plans to restructure it. At a Senate hearing earlier this week, Corker agreed with several criticisms of Tillerson and his team expressed by Democrats, adding that lawmakers need to be “much more focused on holding them accountable.”

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Corker holds hearing on use of nuclear weapons

Just a month after he warned that President Trump may be setting the nation on the path to World War III, Sen. Bob Corker will preside Tuesday over a hearing that will examine the president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike, reports Michael Collins.

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Russians tied to three Twitter accounts that falsely implied links to TNGOP

Federal lawmakers and Twitter acknowledged for the first time Wednesday that three social media accounts masquerading as the Tennessee Republican Party’s were tied to Russia’s effort to undermine last year’s election, reports The Tennessean.

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Russians behind Twitter account targeting TN?

A Twitter account that the Tennessee Republican Party tried to get suspended was created by a Russian “troll” farm that was trying to influence American political views, according to the Russian magazine RBC.

The Tennessee-targeted account was labeled @TEN_GOP; the real Tennessee Republican Party account is @TN_GOP. Twitter suspended it in August, 2017, about a year after the first request by TNGOP.

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Corker laments Trump’s ‘castration’ of U.S. secretary of state

Excerpt from a Washington Post piece based on an interview with U.S. Sen. Bob Corker:

(A)s Corker sees it, the biggest problem is that Trump is neutering his own chief diplomat, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and thereby inviting “binary” situations in which the United States will have to choose between war and a North Korea or Iran capable of threatening the United States with nuclear weapons.

“You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice,” Corker told me in a phone interview Friday. “The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible. But it’s the first part” — the “castration” of Tillerson — “that I am most exercised about.”

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White House spokeswoman: Corker comment ‘ridiculous’ (Joe Carr didn’t like it either)

Somewhat belatedly, the White House had a response Thursday to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s comment last week that Donald Trump hasn’t demonstrated the competence or stability needed by a president. And at least one prospective Corker challenger in the 2018 GOP primary, former state Rep. Joe Carr, is criticizing the comments as well.

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Hagerty takes oath as U.S. ambassador to Japan

Nashville businessman Bill Hagerty, a former Tennessee commissioner of economic development, Thursday took the oath of office as U.S. ambassador to Japan in a ceremony at Eisenhower Executive Office Building next door to the White House, reports Michael Collins.

His wife Chrissy and their four children were by his side… Vice President Mike Pence introduced Hagerty, who was greeted by the crowd with loud cheers and a double thumbs-up. Pence then administered the oath.

“I look forward to the challenge before us,” Hagerty said in brief remarks afterward.

… Pence said Hagerty has spent a lifetime working to strengthen ties between the U.S. and Japan, including a stint living in Japan on a three-year assignment as a consultant.

President Donald Trump’s choice of Hagerty as ambassador demonstrates the ties between the two countries remains strong, Pence said.

… To Hagerty, Pence said: “Bill, given your integrity, your very good leadership and your distinguished history, the president and I are confident you will excel in this new role to help make the extraordinary friendship and alliance between the United States of America and Japan even stronger.”

 

Duncan one of three congressmen voting no on Russia, Iran and North Korea sanctions bill

From Politico:

The House on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved new sanctions on Russia, Iran, and North Korea, with the GOP-controlled chamber advancing a significant new constraint on President Donald Trump’s foreign policy.

The sanctions legislation, which allows lawmakers to block Trump from any attempt to roll back sanctions against Moscow, is expected to pass the Senate in similarly bipartisan fashion before next month’s recess.

… The House’s 419-3 vote on the sanctions bill saw only three dissenters: GOP Reps. Justin Amash of Michigan, John Duncan of Tennessee and Thomas Massie of Kentucky. Even Rep. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.), Russia’s staunchest defender on the Hill, revealed hours before the vote that he would support the measure out of support for its penalties against Tehran and Pyongyang.

Full story HERE.

U.S. Senate confirms Bill Hagerty as U.S. ambassador to Japan

The U.S. Senate voted 82-12 today to confirm President Trump’s nomination of William “Bill” Hagerty, formerly commissioner of the Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development, as U.S. ambassador to Japan.

Tennessee’s two U.S. senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander, both praised Hagerty in Senate floor speeches. Here’s text of their remarks, as provided by their communications staff:

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