Oklahoma’s Republican Sen. James Lankford rejected colleague Bob Corker’s comments that the Republican Party is in a “cult-like situation” with President Donald Trump in which it will not publicly disagree with Trump.
“We’re in a strange place. It’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it?” Corker, a Tennessee Republican senator, told CNN’s Manu Raju on Wednesday morning. “It’s not a good place for any party to have a cult-like situation as it relates to a President that happens to be purportedly of the same party.”
“I would disagree with that. There are areas that you can agree or disagree with any person,” Lankford told Wolf Blitzer on CNN’s “The Situation Room” on Wednesday evening. “There are areas I agree with President Trump; there are a lot of areas I disagree. And that’s fine. We should be able to have that ongoing dialogue. Where we agree, we should be able to work together. But I don’t see it as a cult-like focus. I definitely wouldn’t use that term.”
Lankford added that he believes Trump is capable of accepting criticism of himself and his policies.
“I think the President can take it as well as dish it out,” Lankford said.
He added, “I don’t work for the President, I work alongside the President.”
He encouraged politicians to discuss their disagreements, particularly in private.
“In the areas where we disagree, we should be able to verbalize that, work it out, obviously as many of those in private as possible – that’s the best place to resolve differences. Whether you’re in politics or in a family or a business you should be able to work that out privately, rather than publicly,” he said.
During his interview, Lankford also disagreed with Trump’s tweets from earlier in the day that “there is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea” and that “our Country’s biggest enemy is the Fake News so easily promulgated by fools.”
“I don’t believe (the nuclear threat from North Korea) is over because we’ve not seen denuclearization, we’ve not seen dismantlement of weapons, we’ve not seen a change in posture yet,” he said in response to a question about Trump’s tweet about the threat. “We’ve seen words, and words are a good step, but words are by far not the last step.”
He also said he believes Trump is being “optimistic, and I think it’s his nature that he walks in and has a negotiation and expects everyone is going to live up to their part of the deal” but “if they change, he responds pretty rapidly.”
Further, “I don’t see (the news media) as being the biggest enemy,” Lankford said in response to questions about the President’s tweet about “Fake News.” “Quite frankly, the free press is one of the greatest allies we have in the rest of the world.”