Source: The Oak Ridger | Darrell Richardson | April 25, 2017
Earlier in the week, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, reportedly spoke to the Morning Rotary Club of Brentwood, Tenn., and said he has more foreign ministers reaching out to his office than ever before — seeking guidance on how to deal with the Trump administration.
“We encourage them to go to the White House,” he said. “I mean, we want more and more people over there.”
On Friday, Corker was guest speaker at a morning meeting of the East Tennessee Economic Council in Oak Ridge, Tenn. While here, the senator, who many view as more bipartisan than most, continued to advance his opinion to a standing-room-only audience that President Donald Trump is continuing to “evolve” on foreign policy issues.
Corker said the job he has to do is both a privilege and an honor, but there isn’t a lot of warmth.
Be that as it may, Corker indicated that despite the “volatile situation” the new administration faces, Trump, he believes, is becoming more and more “open to input.”
“There are a lot of people around the president who care about the climate issue, even though he may also have people around him who think it’s a total hoax,” Corker said.
In addition to fielding a question from the crowd on the Paris Accord, the senator also discussed or at least touched on a variety of other national and international issues near and dear to the hearts of millions of Americans, such as the United States’ nuclear deal with Iran and current events taking place in North Korea.
“I don’t have a crystal ball on North Korea,” Corker assured. But he did convey the need for a more consistent U.S. foreign policy now and in the future vs. what he called the “muddled” policies of a long list of past American presidents — Republicans and Democrats alike.
“When we went into Libya,” he said, “we sent a signal.” And, likewise, according to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair’s point of view, the U.S. military’s April 7 strike on Syria — in response to its alleged use of chemical weapons that killed dozens of citizens — “had its desired impact” as well.
And in regards to North Korea, “We are going to continue to ratchet up the pressure,” said Corker, who added, however, that “it is a week-by-week situation.”
On the subject of developing and building upon a more bipartisan Washington, D.C., Sen. Corker said he believes his “Democrat colleagues are still shell-shocked by the outcome of (November’s presidential) election,” and indicated that it is “very challenging for them” to get back to a bipartisan mindset.
Nevertheless, the Republican senator himself had nothing but warm comments to share regarding his across-the-aisle relationships with key leaders in the Democrat party such as former Secretary of State John Kerry and 2016 Democrat party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, the latter of whom Corker described as someone who “was very accessible to me — always.”
As for Kerry, Sen. Corker expressed his opinion that, with the exception of the aforementioned Iran nuclear deal, the White House showed little support for Kerry’s efforts and indicated that may have been in some ways related to Susan Rice (the United States’ National Security Advisor from 2013 to 2017, who was mentioned as a possible replacement for retiring Secretary of State Hillary Clinton after President Barack Obama’s re-election in 2012).
Regarding the current U.S. Secretary of State, Corker again expressed nothing but respect — and “high hopes” — for American energy executive, civil engineer and diplomat Rex Tillerson.
Answering a specific question from a member of the Oak Ridge audience on Friday, the senator from Chattanooga said he couldn’t have a better working relationship with Tillerson — even though Corker himself was in the running for Trump’s Secretary of State position over an extended period of time.
While enjoying a holiday reprieve from Congress, Corker said he received a call at home from President Trump who told him: “Bob, I have gone through all of this, and I think I am going to give Rex a try.” To which the Tennessee senator told Friday’s crowd, “If it came down to between me and Tillerson, I would have picked Tillerson, too!”