The White House on Tuesday escalated President Trump’s feud with Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), saying the senator was partially responsible for the Iran nuclear deal.
“Senator Corker worked with Nancy Pelosi and the Obama administration to pave the way for that and rolled out the red carpet for the Iran deal,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said at a briefing.
Corker’s office said the claim is “not true” and that the Tennessee Republican opposed the Iran deal and worked with lawmakers to craft a bill ensuring Congress could review the deal, against the Obama White House’s wishes.
“He worked with them on the legislation that rolled that out,” Sanders responded. “That’s what helped I think put things in motion. He may have voted against the deal ultimately, but he not only allowed the deal to happen, he gave it credibility. I stand by my statement.”
Trump has called the U.S. nuclear deal with Iran an embarrassment and will announce soon whether he will decertify the pact. He and other top administration officials have said Iran is not complying with the deal.
It appeared that Sanders came ready to criticize Corker at Tuesday’s briefing, repeatedly hammering the retiring senator, who is not seeking reelection in 2018.
Some of Trump’s allies, including former White House chief strategist Stephen Bannon, have called for Corker to resign. Sanders refused to say whether Corker should stay.
“I think that’s a decision for Sen. Corker and the people of Tennessee,” Sanders said.
Trump responded Tuesday by mocking Corker’s height.
Sanders on Tuesday bristled at Corker’s criticism, rattling off a list of accomplishments she said Trump has achieved in his first months in office, including new sanctions on North Korea, battlefield gains against the Islamic State and a “vision of principled realism that is creating calm around the world and defeating our enemies.”
“Senator Corker may have an opinion, but the facts certainly don’t lie,” Sanders said. “The president’s been very successful on this front.”
Some Republicans have expressed concern that Trump’s feud with a top-ranking Republican in the Senate could imperil the GOP’s tax reform push. But Sanders said the White House is still hopeful that Corker will be on board.
“Hopefully Sen. Corker, who’s been somebody who’s consistently talked about being a fiscal hawk, presented with responsible cuts, that he would support those,” Sanders said.
And Sanders denied that Trump was alienating himself from Republicans in Congress by feuding with one of their own.
“I don’t think he’s alienated anyone, I think Congress has alienated themselves by not actually getting the job done that the people of this country elected them to do,” Sanders said.
“They all promised and campaigned on repealing and replacing ObamaCare. They haven’t done that. They’ve campaigned on tax reform. Hopefully, we see that happen. We’re certainly committed to that and think we’ll get there.
“But time and time again Congress has made promises and failed to deliver. If anyone’s being alienated, it’s people who are promising things and not delivering on them.”
Since announcing his retirement, Corker has lashed out at Trump, saying in a New York Times interview that the White House is like an adult daycare center and that Trump could lead the country into World War III.