White House spokeswoman: Corker comment ‘ridiculous’ (Joe Carr didn’t like it either)

Somewhat belatedly, the White House had a response Thursday to U.S. Sen. Bob Corker’s comment last week that Donald Trump hasn’t demonstrated the competence or stability needed by a president. And at least one prospective Corker challenger in the 2018 GOP primary, former state Rep. Joe Carr, is criticizing the comments as well.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders, as quoted by CNN: “I think that’s a ridiculous and outrageous claim that doesn’t dignify a response from this podium.”

… The fight between Corker and the White House pressed forward on the same day Trump continued to level attacks against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

The two men (McConnell and Trump) have not spoken in more than two weeks and the relationship has sunk to new lows as Congress prepares to return to Washington to tackle a slew of critical legislative issues and priorities on the Republican agenda.

Politico reports on a recent Corker-Trump conversation, part of a story on presidential unhappiness with congressional dealings involving Russian relations.

Trump expressed frustration over a bipartisan bill sanctioning Russia and tried to convince Senate Foreign Relations Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) that it wasn’t good policy, according to three people familiar with the call. Trump argued that the legislation was unconstitutional and said it would damage his presidency. Corker was unrelenting, these people said, and told Trump the bill was going to pass both houses with bipartisan support.

“He was clearly frustrated,” one person said of Trump’s call with Corker earlier this month. The bill cleared Congress overwhelmingly last month and Trump grudgingly signed it on Aug. 2.

…A Corker spokeswoman described the late July conversation as a “productive conversation about the congressional review portion of the Russia sanctions bill.”

White House spokeswoman Lindsay Walters said, “We do not comment on private conversations the president has with members of Congress. We are committed to working together on tax relief, border security, strengthening the military, and other important issues.”

And the Associated Press has a review of Corker’s readiness for a reelection campaign – though he hasn’t officially announced one – that says the senator’s criticism of Trump could be a factor.

Already there are indications that the populist wing of the Republican party in Tennessee — which includes the most ardent Trump supporters — doesn’t like it one bit.

“It is time Tennessee had a senator who believes in the virtues of what makes America great and is willing to fight for it,” former state Rep. Joe Carr said in a Facebook post. “We need a senator who will fight alongside President Trump not fight against him.”

Like Trump’s initial remarks, Carr said both sides were to blame for the violence in Charlottesville, describing the clashes as “hate on hate.”

Carr’s tea party-styled primary challenge of U.S. Sen. Lamar Alexander came within a surprising 9 percentage points of toppling the state’s senior statesman in 2014, and he has been making noise about running against Corker next year.

Should he choose to run — and many expect he will — Corker would likely emulate the tactics of U.S. Rep. Diane Black, who went on a merciless offensive against Carr when she beat him by a 2-to-1 margin in last year’s GOP House primary.

Note: Initial post on Corker’s remarks is HERE.

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