UPDATED: Corker’s chances of becoming secretary of state diminished?

President-elect Donald Trump is enjoying the drama over his decision on appointing a U.S. secretary of state and has expanded his list of prospects of state from four to six names, reports Politico, with “transition sources” telling the online political news outlet that Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker’s prospects have diminished.

The report coincides with a Michael Collins article reporting that Corker has come in for criticism from some arch conservatives.

From Politico:

After initially narrowing his list to four finalists, Trump expanded it anew over the weekend, with interview invitations given to ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson and retired Navy Admiral James G. Stavridis for this week.

Those are in addition to the previous top contenders: Mitt Romney, whom Trump has met with twice, Trump adviser and former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, former Gen. David Petraeus, and current Senate Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Bob Corker, although three transition sources said Corker’s chances have diminished in recent days.

“It is true that he’s broadened the search,” former Trump campaign manager Kellyanne Conway told reporters Sunday.

From Collins’ report:

Just a few hours before Corker sat down with Trump for a meeting at his posh offices in New York City last Tuesday, a couple of prominent conservatives implored the president-elect not to choose the Tennessee senator as his secretary of state.

“We can do a lot better than this,” Mark Levin, editor-in-chief of the Conservative Review, said on his radio show Monday night. “If in fact Corker is chosen, it would be the worst presidential pick by a Republican in my lifetime. Absolutely the worst in such a position. It would be a disgrace.”

The next day, writer Benjamin Weingarten penned a Conservative Review piece that said Corker’s “complicity” in the Iran nuclear deal disqualifies him from becoming the nation’s top diplomat.

…Corker and his aides take exception to the claim that he allowed the nuclear deal to get through Congress. They point out what they see as a major hole in his critics’ argument:

The White House, not the Senate, decides whether such an agreement is a treaty.  And the Obama administration made it clear from the beginning of the negotiations that it never intended to refer to the Iran deal as a treaty, meaning it would not be subject to the two-thirds vote in the Senate.

“Our bill was the only way to guarantee a role for Congress,” Corker said. “It forced the details of the agreement to be revealed, and while in the end there were not enough votes to stop the deal, it demonstrated a broad bipartisan majority opposed implementation.”

Note: In Tennessee, the anonymous right-wing blog Rocky Top Politics has devoted considerable effort to criticizing Corker since his name entered speculation for the secretary of state position. Sample HERE.

This post updates, expands and replaces an earlier post.

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