Political News

Donald Trump's relationship with Bob Corker: A timeline

Posted September 15

Republican Sen. Bob Corker is set to meet with President Donald Trump on Friday afternoon, a sitdown that comes after Corker slammed Trump last month for his handling of the racially motivated protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Corker has recently been outspoken about his critiques of the President, saying in August that Trump has not been "able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful."

Former White House chief strategist Steve Bannon and his allies are preparing primary challenges against Republican senators, a source close to Bannon confirmed to CNN on Sunday. The target list includes a few Republican senators -- including Corker.

But the relationship was not always so fraught. Here's a look at some of Trump and Corker's public interactions:

April 28, 2016 -- Corker won't endorse Trump, but says he "supports" him

Corker stopped short of endorsing Trump, but he praised Trump's evolution as a politician.

Calling Trump's foreign policy address the day before a "really good transition in the campaign," Corker commended Trump for "challenging the foreign policy establishment that has been here for so long."

May 23, 2016 -- Corker describes a "good meeting" with Trump

Corker, who at the time was rumored to be on Trump's shortlist for vice president, said that he had "a good meeting about foreign policy and domestic issues" with the then-presumptive Republican presidential nominee.

Corker, who said he'd never met with Trump before, downplayed the VP speculation, adding he had no reason to believe he was being considered for the #2 slot. Instead, the Senate foreign relations committee chairman said he met with Trump at his namesake tower in New York to discuss China, Russia and other foreign and domestic policy issues.

"We had never talked except on the phone," said Corker after the meeting. "It was more of a get-to-know-each-other kind of meeting. It was really more of a policy meeting."

November 16, 2016 -- Corker "in the mix" for secretary of state

Corker told CNN's Jake Tapper that he knew he was "in the mix" for secretary of state of Trump's Cabinet during the transition.

"I also understand that there are people who are very close to the campaign who have had long term friendships who are also in the mix," he said. "So my sense is that those people are being looked at very closely right now so we'll see how it turns out."

He continued: "It's been an honor to be in the mix so we'll see what happens." Trump would eventually choose Rex Tillerson to be his secretary of state.

May 16, 2016 -- Corker says White House in 'downward spiral'

Corker is among the congressional Republicans who appears openly critical of the Trump White House amid a series of scandals to be made public in May.

"They are in a downward spiral right now and have got to figure out a way to come to grips with all that's happening," Corker told reporters, his comments coming after reports surfaced that Trump had revealed sensitive intelligence to Russia's foreign minister and US ambassador.

Corker continued, "You know the shame of it is there's a really good national security team in place, there's good productive things that are underway through them, and through others. But the chaos that is being created by the lack of discipline is creating an environment that I think - it creates a worrisome environment."

August 17, 2017 -- Corker: Trump hasn't demonstrated the stability or competence to be successful

Corker slammed Trump's handling of the racially motivated protests in Charlottesville, charging that the President "has not demonstrated he understands the character of this nation."

The Tennessee Republican told reporters in Chattanooga, Tennessee, that he thought there must be "radical changes" within the White House.

"The President has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful," Corker said, according to a video posted by local news website Nooga.com.

August 24, 2017 -- White House fires back at Corker: 'Ridiculous'

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders fired back at Corker who said Trump hasn't demonstrated the "stability" or "competence" he needs to display as president.

"I think that's a ridiculous and outrageous claim that doesn't dignify a response from this podium," Sanders said at the time, in the White House's first response to the comments.

August 25, 2017 -- Trump: "Strange statement" from Corker

The sharp rebuke in August by Corker set off a torrent of criticism from the White House, with Trump tweeting about the episode.

"Strange statement by Bob Corker considering that he is constantly asking me whether or not he should run again in '18," Trump tweeted. "Tennessee not happy!"

Asked about that tweet, Corker said: "I thought his tweet was fine."

Corker said he's had "multiple interactions" with senior officials at the White House since the flap, and said "no question my relationship is just the same as it was before."

"Oh, I mean, I talk to the President about almost everything," Corker said. "We spend a lot of time together. We play golf. We, you know, they talked to me about being potentially vice president, secretary of state, so I've had multiple conversations about the future with lots of people. So, I'm sure when we played golf, the topic came up."

September 11, 2017 -- Corker says he is weighing whether to retire in 2018

Corker told CNN's Manu Raju he is weighing whether to call it quits next year.

Corker said hat he has not made a decision about his future, and appeared to confirm Trump's tweet that he asked the President for political advice about whether to run for reelection.

"As far as what am I going to do in the future, I'm still contemplating the future," Corker said in an interview. "It's a tremendous privilege to do what I do, and to weigh in on the big issues. ... But I have not decided what I'm going to do in the future."

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