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Corker unloads on #Trump for trying to ‘castrate’ #Tillerson


Sen. Bob Corker is pictured. | AP Photo

Sen. Bob Corker has been outspoken in his support of numerous top administration officials, while continuing to clash with the president himself. | Alex Brandon/AP Photo

Sen. Bob Corker escalated his war of words with the White House on Friday, admonishing President Donald Trump for what the senator called an effort to "castrate" the secretary of state and actions that are pushing U.S. diplomatic efforts to the brink of "World War III."

Corker (R-Tenn.), who publicly laid into Trump earlier this week on Twitter by saying the White House had become an "adult day care center," slammed the president by saying he was undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and creating scenarios in which the United States might be forced to choose between waging war on North Korea or Iran or allowing those countries to threaten the U.S. with nuclear weapons.

"You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice," Corker told The Washington Post in an interview Friday. He added that it was the undercutting of Tillerson that he was "most exercised about."

According to Corker, the secretary was in fact one of Trump's greatest assets, and had made strides toward improving relationships with other global powers, notably China.

"The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way," he said. "Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal."

But comments from the White House — including the assertion that Tillerson was "wasting his time" by seeking a diplomatic route with North Korea — hampered efforts to build up U.S. foreign policy, Corker said.

"When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart," he said. "Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice. When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table."

Corker has been outspoken in his support of numerous top administration officials, while continuing to clash with the president himself. Last Wednesday, Corker told reporters that Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis and chief of staff John Kelly "are those people that help separate our country from chaos" — a comment that angered Trump and drew a rebuttal from the White House.

Trump fired back on Twitter, saying that Corker, who is retiring next year, had "begged" for his endorsement before declining to run for re-election. "He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said 'NO THANKS.' He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!" Trump added.

The comments set off a chain of insults flung back and forth that prompted groans from congressional Republicans, who are facing uphill battles to pass major pieces of legislation before the end of the calendar year.

Corker on Monday also cast a dire picture of U.S. diplomatic efforts under the Trump administration during an interview with The New York Times, panning what he described as the president's erratic and undermining comments.

Unknown to Trump, Corker said, "we could be heading towards World War III with the kinds of comments that he's making."



Original Article: http://www.politico.com/story/2017/10/13/bob-corker-rex-tillerson-castrate-trump-243771

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