Hours before Donald Trump was set to huddle with Senate Republicans to rally support for his tax cut measure, Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker delivered an absolute bludgeoning of the President. And even that may be an understatement.
In an interview with CNN’s Manu Raju, Corker said the President consistently doesn’t tell the truth, dodged on whether Trump should have the nuclear codes, said Trump wasn’t a role model for children, said he would not ever support him again and repeatedly suggested that Trump “debases” the country.
It was something else. Below, I’ve picked the nine roughest Corker lines and ranked them from least to most devastating.
9. “The shame of it is, there are some some really good people around him, and if he would stay out of their way and let them perform, people like (Rex) Tillerson and (James) Mattis and others, we could really make progress on things that matter greatly to our country.”
Think about this. Corker is saying that if only Trump would get out of the way, Republicans could actually get some things done. He views Trump as the main impediment to getting things done in Washington. And this is the least damning thing Corker said about Trump in his interview with Manu!
8. “I would hope the staff over there would figure out ways of controlling him when they know that everything he said today was absolutely untrue.”
This echoes Corker’s comments about the White House functioning as an “adult daycare center” in which the job of lots of smart and serious people is to keep the President from doing anything truly destructive to the country. Rather than doing the work of the country, Corker suggests, the main focus of the White House is managing the President’s moods and tempers.
7. “Four times he encouraged me to run and told me he would endorse me. I don’t know. it’s amazing.”
Corker, again, is noting that he believes Trump is lying about the nature of their conversation last month at the White House. Trump continues to insist Corker begged for his endorsement and said he couldn’t win – and would have to retire – without it. Corker has consistently argued that Trump not only asked him to run again but offered to endorse him and campaign with him. Someone is lying. And, based on track record, I think we have a pretty good idea who it is.
6. “I think that he’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion … I don’t think that that’s possible. He’s obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.”
This quote comes in the context of Corker telling Manu about dinners and meetings that he and other Republican senators have had with Trump in which they urged him to moderate some of his natural bomb-throwing tendencies. He didn’t. And, according to Corker, he won’t. This is as good as it gets, Corker is saying. Which is pretty damning.
5. “The President has great difficulty with the truth. On many issues.”
Corker wouldn’t call Trump a “liar” in the interview with Manu. But he did everything but. The quote above suggests that Corker believes Trump’s natural state is to not tell the truth. Related: Corker is talking about the President, aka the single most powerful person in the country.
4. “I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, and debases our country in a way that he does, but he does.”
That word “debase” is a powerful one. It means, quite literally: “To reduce in quality or value; adulterate.” So what Corker is saying is that Trump is tarnishing the country by the way he acts and what he says. Wowza.
3. “We are going to be doing hearings on some of the things that he purposely is breaking down, relationships we have around the world that have been useful to our nation.”
What exactly does this mean? Corker, as chairman of the Senate foreign relations committee, is going to hold hearings seeking accountability for the decisions Trump has made as President? He is going to hold hearings aimed at restoring trust between the US and our traditional allies? Something else? No matter what, it’s a big deal.
2. “I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue.”
Remember that this is the GOP head of a major Senate committee speaking. Corker isn’t popping off. He actually talks to world leaders and, presumably, knows of what he speaks. Consider then what this means: World leaders – our allies and our adversaries – know that Trump is often lying. The chaos that can – and will – create in the world is hard to wrap your head around. And terrifying.
1. “When his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth telling, and the – just the name calling, the things that I think, the debasement of our nation is what we will be remembered most important, and that’s regretful.”
Trump has been president for nine-ish months. A prominent Republican senator is suggesting that not only is Trump’s legacy already set but that it will be a legacy of “debasement of our nation.” Sit with that for a minute. (Sidebar: More than four in 10 people in a recent Marist College poll said Trump would go down in history as one of our worst presidents.)