Senator Bob Corker Won’t Say If Trump Can Be Trusted With Nuclear Codes

Senator Bob Corker talks to reporters as he heads to a vote on amendments to the fiscal year 2018 budget resolution. Photo: Drew Angerer/Getty Images

Tennessee senator Bob Corker visited the morning shows on Tuesday, where he suggested Trump should “step aside” on tax reform and refused to back down from his comments earlier this month where he suggested Trump was leading America “on the path to World War III.” Corker’s candor inevitably escalated his feud with Donald Trump, who, of course, embarked on a lengthy Twitter rant against the “lightweight” senator.

Corker fired back by basically calling Trump a liar and a child (for the second time).

But off Twitter, Corker unleashed. Here’s a quick roundup of all the shade the Tennessee senator flung back at the president Tuesday morning.

Corker Would Like Trump to Leave Governing to the ‘Professionals,’ Especially When It Comes to Anything That Involves Other Countries

In an interview on Today, host Savannah Guthrie asked Corker if he thought “the president is a threat to national security.” Corker did not say yes — but he didn’t not say yes, either.

“I think that there are people who are around him who work in an effort to contain him — that would be Secretary Mattis, Tillerson, and General Kelly there as chief of staff,” Corker told her.

“That almost seems to accept the premise of the question: He needs to be contained?” Guthrie responded.

“I do think,” Corker replied, “when you’re having the kind of issue we’re having with North Korea where we have a very unstable leader there, when you send out tweets into the region to raise tension, when you kneecap your secretary of state whose diplomacy you have to depend upon … you really move our country into a binary choice which could lead to a world war.”

Corker reiterated that sentiment with George Stephanopoulos on ABC’s Good Morning America, when asked if he had any second thoughts about his previous criticism of Trump. “When you look at the fact that we’ve got this issue with North Korea, and the president continues to kneecap his diplomatic representative, the secretary of State, and really move him away from successful diplomatic negotiations with China — which is key to this — you’re taking us on a path to combat,” Corker said.

“The president undermines our secretary of State, raises tensions in the area by virtue of the tweets he sends out,” he continued, “and I would just like him to leave it to the professionals for a while and see if we can do something that’s constructive for our country, the region, and the world.”

That Goes for Tax Reform, Too

Stephanopoulos also asked Corker what he thought about Trump’s promise of no limits to 401(k) contributions, to which the senator basically said Trump should sit this one out, too. “What I hope is going to happen is the president will leave this effort, if you will, to the tax writing committees,” Corker said. “Let them do their work, and not begin taking things off the table that ought to be debated in these committees at the proper time.”

Corker was a bit more blunt on the Today show, where he indicated Trump’s visit to Capitol Hill to talk about tax reform on Tuesday was essentially a photo op. “Tax writing committees in the Senate and the House are going to be laying out the $4 trillion dollars in loophole closings that need to take place,” Corker said. “Hopefully the White House will step aside and let that occur in a normal process.”

Matt Lauer pressed Corker, asking him if his message to the president was to “leave well enough alone.”

“I would recommend that based on recent history and … interactions,” Corker replied. “But I think it’s fine for him to come over. I do look at these things as more of a photo op, they’re not really about substance. But you know, more power to him.”

Corker Plays ‘Taboo’ With the Word ‘Liar’

CNN congressional correspondent Manu Raju caught up with Corker after Trump blasted the senator in his tweetstorm. Corker tested the limits on how many times you can call someone a liar without actually calling them a liar. “The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues,” Corker said, when asked point-blank by Raju if Trump was a liar. (He also said “we grew up in our family not using the “L-word.”)

When asked about Trump’s accusations from this morning, Corker said, “Nothing that he said in his tweets today were truthful or accurate. He knows it. People around him know it. 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.”

Corker took issue with his characterization of the Iran deal, and well, “everything else.” “Four times he encouraged me to run and told me he would endorse me,” Corker said. “I don’t know. It’s amazing. Unfortunately, I think world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue. Certainly people here are because these things are provably untrue. I mean, they’re just factually incorrect, and people know the difference. I don’t know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard, and debases our country in the way that he does, but he does.”

Corker Won’t Vote Trump 2020

“He’s proven himself unable to rise to the occasion,” Corker summed up.

Trump’s Legacy, So Far, Is the ‘Debasement of Our Nation’

“Absolutely not,” Corker pointedly said when asked by Raju whether Trump was a good role model. “I think the things that are happening right now that are harmful to our nation, whether it’s the breaking down of — 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,” Corker said. “But I think at the end of the day, when his term is over, I think the debasing of our nation, the constant non-truth-telling, just the name-calling … I think the debasement of our nation will be what he’ll be remembered most for, and that’s regretful.”

Corker Wouldn’t Say Whether He Trusted Trump With the Nuclear Codes

Corker did decline to say whether he trusts Trump with the nuclear codes. But, he explained, “in our hearing process, certainly we’re going to be addressing the fact that he, with only one other person on the defense side, has tremendous powers.”

“Again, I don’t want to carry this much further,” Corker continued. “But, look, I expressed concerns a few weeks ago about his leadership and just his stability and lack of desire to be competent on issues.”

Trump appeared to catch Corker’s CNN interview. Shockingly, he did not let “liddle” Bob Corker’s comments go unanswered.

In the next episode, Corker and Trump will sit down face-to-face for lunch on Capitol Hill.

GOP Sen. Corker Won’t Say If Trump Can Be Trusted With Nukes