Trump Challenges Secretary of State Rex Tillerson To IQ Test, Feuds With GOP Sen. Bob Corker : NPR

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President Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday.

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President Trump speaks to the media before boarding Marine One on the South Lawn of the White House on Saturday.

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The past few days have been particularly chaotic, even for a president who seems to thrive on self-created chaos.

There’s been a feud with a key Republican senator, a flare up at a professional football game with President Trump instructing his vice president to walk out when players (on the most activist team in the NFL) knelt during the national anthem, and he even questioned the IQ of his secretary of state.

It also comes on the heels of Trump’s spat with the mayor of San Juan, Puerto Rico, as well as his odd and mysterious threat about a “calm before the storm” while meeting with military leaders. (Mostly, that seemed to be a tease, to build drama, and, frankly, mess with the media. Cable news outlets were obsessing over the comment for hours. Could something be in the works? Maybe, but there have been plenty of other things Trump has teased were coming soon, but never did.)

Containment” has a whole new meaning

Trump’s war of words with Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee took place mostly, where else, on Twitter. After Corker unburdened himself in an interview with the New York Times — in which he grabbed headlines saying that he worries Trump will set the country “on the path to World War III” — Trump slammed him.

The president claimed Corker “begged” for an endorsement for reelection and was lobbying to be secretary of state.


For the record, Corker called the allegations false. And he responded to Trump, saying that someone must have missed their shift at the “adult day care” center that is the White House.


This is a big deal because Corker could be key in passing a tax overhaul and reimposing sanctions on Iran if the president tries to upend the current nuclear agreement struck under the Obama presidency. Corker isn’t running for reelection and is now free to speak his mind publicly — in a way few other Republican senators have been.

In foreign policy, “containment” is supposed to be what the United States tries to do to its enemies — not to its own commander-in-chief. But containment is what Corker said is happening at the White House.

“I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Corker told the Times. He also said Trump was treating the presidency like a “reality TV show.”

This wasn’t the first time Corker had expressed concerns about Trump. Back in August, after the marches in Charlottesville, he said Trump was not demonstrating the stability or competence needed to be a successful president. Corker also described Secretary of State Rex Tillerson as one of the people “separating our country from chaos.”

The sentiment is hardly isolated to Corker. It tracks with what other congressional Republicans express privately — frustration, embarrassment and real concern about the commander-in-chief. But they can’t say it publicly.

Republican Rep. Mark Meadows of North Carolina, chairman of the arch-conservative House Freedom Caucus, told the AP that he thought Corker’s comments were inappropriate.

“It’s easy to be bold when you’re not coming back,” Meadows said.

That could give Corker an ability to be as uncontained as he might want.

Being in a fight seems to be Trump’s default position. And he’s willing to do it even with a senator he needs.

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is in a war of words with President Trump and neither is holding back.

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Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker, R-Tenn., is in a war of words with President Trump and neither is holding back.

Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Stoking division

Watching Vice President Pence walk out of an NFL game was stunning. And signs indicate it may have been planned.

As CNN reported:

“The pool of journalists accompanying the vice president was not allowed into the stadium and was asked to stay in their vans. They were told by a staffer that ‘there may be an early departure from the game,’ but were not given any further details.”

It’s to be expected that players currently are going to kneel at games. So you have a situation in which the president told the vice president to leave the game if anyone knelt — a deliberate strategy to make a statement. The White House says this is all about the flag and honoring veterans. But it’s a move that could be seen as a continued effort to sow division for political gain.

(That’s not to mention that the trip may have cost $200,000 at taxpayer’s expense, according to one estimate.)

Pence issued several tweets of his own, including this one that showed loyalty to the president, which said, in part, “I stand with President Trump.”


Pence’s statement after the Corker flare up showed even more fealty to Trump.

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