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President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on Sen. Bob Corker, a powerful Tennessee Republican, on Tuesday, calling him “Liddle,” apparently mocking the senator’s physical size.
The president has reportedly remarked on Corker’s size before, telling aides that the 5-foot-7 lawmaker was too short to be his secretary of state, a position that Corker was reportedly in the running for.
Corker, who has been critical of Trump for the past several months, made headlines last week when he accused Trump of undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s efforts to establish diplomatic channels with North Korea amid heightening tensions with the rogue nation. Corker also said that Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and White House chief of staff John Kelly are “those people that help separate our country from chaos.”
Following Corker’s comments, Trump claimed that the senator sought his endorsement before deciding against seeking reelection in 2018, an assertion Corker’s office disputed, saying the president had offered to endorse the senator just last week.
“Senator Bob Corker ‘begged’ me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee,” Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. “I said ‘NO’ and he dropped out (said he could not win without…my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”
An hour later, Corker responded on Twitter attacking the president’s competency.
“It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning,” he wrote.
On Monday, The New York Times published an interview with Corker in which the senator said the president could start “World War III” and repeated his claim that the White House is barely under control.
In response, Trump accused the Times of secretly recording Corker’s interview, despite the senator’s explicit acknowledgement at the beginning of the interview that it was being recorded both by the Times and by two of his aides.
“The Failing @nytimes set Liddle’ Bob Corker up by recording his conversation,” the president wrote. “Was made to sound a fool, and that’s what I am dealing with!”
Republican lawmakers and the president’s aides reportedly fear that Trump’s feud with Corker will derail the administration’s efforts to pass a tax overhaul. Corker, a deficit hawk, has been critical of the GOP’s tax plan, which he is worried could balloon the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion.
Republicans hold a slim 52-vote majority in the Senate and can afford to lose only two votes to pass a tax overhaul, making Corker’s support of the administration crucial.
Trump has a history of assigning unflattering nicknames to politicians he dislikes – calling Sen. Ted Cruz “Lyin’ Ted” and Hillary Clinton “Crooked Hillary” – and he’s repeatedly made remarks, both degrading and complimentary, about the stature of male politicians.
Sonam Sheth and Bryan Logan contributed to this report.