Why the Trump-Corker Feud Matters

Why the Trump-Corker Feud Matters


In case you somehow missed the latest episode of "As the White House Turns," President Trump and Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN) are sniping at each other again. The latest eruption of their feud started with Corker criticizing the president on television morning shows, including an interview on NBC in which the senator said Trump should stay out of the tax debate: “The tax-writing committees in the Senate and the House are going to be laying out the $4 trillion in loophole closings that need to take place. Hopefully the White House will step aside and let that occur in a normal process.”

The president's reply on Twitter was swift and typically Trumpian. Among his tweets:

Trump tweet Corker

While the escalating feud makes for great cable news fodder, it also represents a stunning indication of just how deeply some lawmakers distrust Trump’s fitness for office — and his ability to drive a legislative agenda. Corker was giving voice to concerns raised by other Republicans that Trump’s tweets and comments will make it more difficult to pass a tax cut even as lawmakers struggle to agree on politically and economically tricky details of the legislation. Those concerns were only heightened after the president on Monday publicly shot down one idea Republicans had been considering to help pay for a $1.5 trillion tax cut, namely lowering the amount Americans could contribute annually to pretax retirement accounts.

GOP leaders in Congress desperately want to focus on their tax plan. “Put this Twitter dispute aside,” Paul Ryan told reporters Tuesday. “All this stuff you see on a daily basis, Twitter this and Twitter that, forget about it.” Similarly, Mitch McConnell insisted after Trump joined GOP lawmakers for a policy lunch that Republicans would come together on a tax bill. "The issue itself brings about great unity among our members. And so we're concentrating on the agenda we have for the American people. The president shares that agenda," McConnell said. "If there's anything that unifies Republicans, it's tax reform."

Achieving that unity wasn’t going to be easy, though, and Tuesday’s Tweet storm didn’t make it any easier.