“He has calibrated his retirement announcement to encourage speculation about a 2020 bid, for which his recent comments are clearly useful in positioning him as an establishment primary challenge to Trump. What is it, exactly, that anyone should respect here?”
.. Republicans must honestly face the president’s mental health, admit that the president often tells falsehoods and recognize that the real power lies in the Senate — not with the executive branch.
.. “That Corker is the only Republican openly remarking on the irresponsibility of this behavior is, frankly, an indictment of the rest of the party.”
Mr. Shepp does not think that the president’s critics should give Mr. Corker and others like him too much credit. “They had enough evidence to know exactly what kind of erratic person they were hitching their wagons to last year, and went ahead and endorsed him anyway,” he writes.
.. “Corker is saying out loud what I hear privately from sources throughout the military and the U.S. government, and from both foreign ambassadors and visiting foreign diplomats.”
.. Perhaps he can subpoena executive branch witnesses, or draft legislation “about the procedure, the grounds, and the justifications before the U.S. commits troops to war.”
.. After Mr. Trump’s surprise victory in 2016, many pundits ascribed a strategic genius to him and his team that everyone missed. The shorthand for this was saying that he was playing three-dimensional chess while everyone else was playing a more traditional game. According to Mr. Cillizza, however, this latest spat between the president and the senator shows that there is really no strategy at play. Mr. Trump, if he cared about getting tax reform accomplished, Mr. Cillizza writes, would not attack an important and respected member of the Senate. “Hitting everyone who hits you, of course, isn’t a strategy. It’s a tactic. And, not a very good one at that.”
.. “For perhaps the Republican senator with the strongest reputation on foreign affairs to say that the president was risking ‘World War III’ isn’t just talk; in politics, talk often is action.”
WASHINGTON — Senator Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, charged in an interview on Sunday that President Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats toward other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”
.. Mr. Trump poses such an acute risk, the senator said, that a coterie of senior administration officials must protect him from his own instincts. “I know for a fact that every single day at the White House, it’s a situation of trying to contain him,” Mr. Corker said in a telephone interview.
Frustrated by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said Monday.
.. In doing so, Trump is laboring to solidify his standing with his populist base and return to the comforts of his campaign — especially after the embarrassing defeat of Sen. Luther Strange (R) in last month’s Alabama special election, despite the president’s trip there to campaign with the senator.
.. Sen. Bob Corker’s brutal assessment of Trump’s fitness for office — warning that the president’s reckless behavior could launch the nation “on the path to World War III” — also hit like a thunderclap inside the White House, where aides feared possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.
.. The most vocal Trump defender was the one under the president’s employ, Vice President Pence.
.. One Trump confidant likened the president to a whistling teapot, saying that when he does not blow off steam, he can turn into a pressure cooker and explode. “I think we are in pressure cooker territory,”
.. Pence’s office blasted out a blanket response under the vice president’s name addressing “criticisms of the president.” The statement bemoaned “empty rhetoric and baseless attacks” against Trump while touting his handling of global threats, from Islamic State terrorists to North Korea.
.. “We have been watching the slow-motion breakup of the Republican Party, and Trump is doing what he can to speed it up,” said Patrick Caddel
.. “Trump is firmly placing himself on the outside, trying to become an almost independent president,”
.. “He knows that many people will be with him, that he helps himself when he’s not seen as the Republican president. But what about his program?
.. Other Trump aides blame Corker for what they consider an act of betrayal, arguing that he started the feud in a bid for relevance by a lame-duck lawmaker
They also accuse Corker of hypocrisy, noting that he was chummy with Trump and did not voice any concerns about his leadership style when he thought he might be picked as vice president or secretary of state.
.. “Donald Trump never truly severs relationships. There is always a dialogue. And with Corker, this isn’t a total endpoint. Trump sees relationships as negotiations, and that’s what they’re in.”
.. Trump is also without his longtime aide-de-camp and former head of security, Keith Schiller
.. His absence has left Trump with few generational peers with whom he feels comfortable venting about his staff or his rivals
.. Barrack has been buzzed about as a possible replacement for Kelly, should tensions between the president and his top aide become unsustainable.
.. his efforts thus far are focused on energizing and solidifying the 40 percent of Americans who were with him, primarily by attacking the 60 percent who were not,”