Tennessee GOP Sen. Bob Corker said on Sunday that President Donald Trump pushed the government into partial shutdown as an act of political posturing.
“This is a made-up fight, so the President can look like he’s fighting, but even if he wins, our borders are going to be insecure,” Corker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
Corker’s comments came as the partial government shutdown went into its second day, following Congress and Trump failing to come to a funding agreement on Friday. The Senate adjourned on Saturday without an agreement, meaning the shutdown would likely continue past Christmas.
Corker, a retiring senator and frequent Trump critic, said the dispute over border security and Trump’s proposed border wall was “a purposefully contrived fight” and argued the fight was small in scope compared to a proposed deal earlier this year ahead of a January government shutdown that would have combined greater money at the border along with protection for “Dreamers.”
“We can secure our borders,” Corker said. “We can solve this problem. This is a made-up fight.”
Asked if he meant Trump was using this as a campaign issue rather than seeking a deal, Corker said, “it has to be that.”
“It’s a spectacle, and candidly, it’s juvenile,” Corker said. “The whole thing is juvenile.”
On Sunday afternoon, Trump personally responded to Corker’s CNN appearance and took issue with Corker’s criticism of his decisions to withdraw troops from Syria and plan for a drawdown in Afghanistan.
“Senator Bob Corker just stated that, ‘I’m so priveledged to serve in the Senate for twelve years, and that’s what I told the people of our state that’s what I’d do, serve for two terms.’ But that is Not True - wanted to run but poll numbers TANKED when I wouldn’t endorse him…..” Trump tweeted.
Later, he continued, “…..Bob Corker was responsible for giving us the horrible Iran Nuclear Deal, which I ended, yet he badmouths me for wanting to bring our young people safely back home. Bob wanted to run and asked for my endorsement. I said NO and the game was over. #MAGA I LOVE TENNESSEE!”
Trump’s tweets largely mirrored an attack against Corker from late 2017, shortly after Corker announced he would not seek re-election. At the time, Corker’s chief of staff Todd Womack said Trump had called Corker asking the Tennessee senator to reconsider retiring and “reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him.”
Womack on Sunday stood by his statement from October 2017.
Two sources told CNN at the time that Trump told Corker he would endorse him the day he announced he would retire. Likewise, as CNN has previously noted, Corker was opposed to the Iran Deal.
In their October 2017 spat, Corker referred to the White House as an “adult day care center,” and on Sunday, he resurfaced the line.
“Yes, just like Mexico is paying for the wall… #AlertTheDaycareStaff,” Corker tweeted in response to Trump.
CNN’s Manu Raju contributed to this report.