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Corker slams Trump for threats to Pyongyang

Oct 10,2017
U.S. Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee, the Republican chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, warned in an interview Sunday that U.S. President Donald Trump’s reckless threats are setting the nation “on the path to World War III.”

The volatile North Korea issue has sparked conflict between U.S. President Donald Trump and Capitol Hill amid political infighting, a point bipartisan U.S. lawmakers are concerned over.

Corker told the New York Times on Sunday that speculation that “there is some kind of ‘good cop, bad cop’ act underway” is “just not true.”

The senator, who is not running for election next year, added that in several instances, Trump has “hurt us as it relates to negotiations that were underway by tweeting things out.”

He also described the president’s behavior as being like he’s on a reality show like “The Apprentice.”

Trump recently shot down U.S. State Secretary Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts toward North Korea, writing on Twitter that his top diplomat was “wasting his time trying to negotiate” with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Tillerson at the end of last month said that Washington is maintaining direct channels of communication with Pyongyang during a visit to China - to arrange Trump’s upcoming trip to the region next month.

Corker, a one-time supporter of Trump, has in recent days been openly critical of the president undermining Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts, especially over North Korea. The senator defended Tillerson last week as being one of the key individuals - alongside Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly - separating the “country from chaos.”

Trump Sunday morning over Twitter claimed that Corker “begged” him for his endorsement for reelection, which he rejected, adding that the senator “Didn’t have the guts to run!” Trump also tweeted: “He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said ‘NO THANKS.’ He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!”

The president has been threatening to “decertify” the Iran nuclear deal made by the Barack Obama administration. Corker in turn tweeted: “It’s a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning.”

Trump warned Thursday of “the calm before the storm,” generally seen as a warning to North Korea and Iran. He went on to criticize the past administrations’ failures in reining in North Korea and declaring “only one thing will work,” hinting at a military option, on Twitter Saturday.

A White House aide, Mick Mulvaney, said there is no misunderstanding on what Donald Trump meant by this tweet. Mulvaney, director of the White House’s Office of Management and Budget, told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday, “I think what the president’s clearly telegraphing - and this should not be news to anybody - is that military options are on the table with North Korea. They absolutely are.” Trump in an interview on the Trinity Broadcasting Network’s “Huckabee” Sunday echoed a similar message, stating, “I was handed a mess,” referring to North Korea, and criticizing the Bill Clinton administration for paying “billions of dollars.”

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]