Sen. Bob Corker: Trump ‘Castrated’ Tillerson on NKorea
(Tom Williams/Getty Images)
By Todd Beamon | Friday, 13 Oct 2017 08:21 PM
President Donald Trump has "castrated" Secretary of State Rex Tillerson — creating the "binary" possibility of war with North Korea or Iran and the use of nuclear weapons, Sen. Bob Corker said Friday.
"You cannot publicly castrate your own secretary of state without giving yourself that binary choice," the retiring Tennessee Republican told The Washington Post in an interview Friday.
"The tweets — yes, you raise tension in the region [and] it’s very irresponsible.
"But it’s the first part" — the "castration" of Tillerson — "that I am most exercised about," he said.
Corker, 65, who has served two terms in the Senate, is chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee.
He slammed Trump to The New York Times on Sunday, saying that his actions could put the U.S. "on the path to World War III."
The president has hit back via Twitter, saying that Corker "didn’t have the guts to run" for re-election next year.
Corker told the Post that Tillerson has been key in working to diffuse the North Korean situation through quiet diplomacy with China.
"The greatest diplomatic activities we have are with China, and the most important, and they have come a long, long way," the senator said. "Some of the things we are talking about are phenomenal."
But Trump tweeting earlier this month that Tillerson was "wasting his time" trying to negotiate with dictator Kim Jong Un — for instance — is making Beijing even more wary of increasing pressure on Pyongyang.
"When you jack the legs out from under your chief diplomat, you cause all that to fall apart," Corker told the Post. "Us working with [Beijing] effectively is the key to not getting to a binary choice.
"When you publicly castrate your secretary of state, you take that off the table."
Regarding Iran, Corker has proposed that Congress amend legislation it passed in 2015 that would re-impose sanctions on Tehran if it did not comply with the nuclear agreement.
The restrictions, he said, would "freeze" the nuclear deal because "we’re not going to do anything that violates" it.
However, President Trump decertified the Iran accord on Friday, giving Congress 60 days to toughen the deal.
Corker told the Post that Congress could preserve it and pave the way for later negotiations with U.S. allies and Tehran.
"This is a way to begin the conversation," he said.
Regarding his overall "World War III" comment, Corker told the Post: "Now that [it] is out there, [Trump] will do everything in his power to prove that it is not true."