Blitzer asked Corker about his unexpected vote in favor of the GOP’s controversial and unpopular tax bill. A last-minute provision was added to the bill on Friday night that would give a 20 percent deduction to owners of “pass-through” real-estate entities. The add-on, now being called the “Corker kickback,” would benefit both Corker and President Donald Trump, and has been credited for swaying the senator’s vote in favor of the bill.
“You’re getting a lot of criticism out there because you flipped the vote from a ‘no’ to a ‘yes,’” Blitzer told Corker.
“I’ve tried to explain to you several times here,” responded Corker, who is the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. “I spent a tremendous amount of time on the phone last week with people from the both sides of the aisle trying to weigh the growth aspects of this versus the deficit issues that I’ve been concerned about. I announced it very clearly on Friday as to what I’m going to do.”
“I know that I’m being maligned over totally malicious stuff that has totally been disproven,” the senator said. “I know people are having a good time with this but it’s just malicious. I’m making this decision because I believe that it is best for the country. Period.”
Blitzer also asked Corker whether Trump had thanked him for his changing vote. Corker and Trump have a long-standing feud that was reignited after Corker told CNN’s Manu Raju in October that he wouldn’t support Trump again and criticized the “debasing” of the nation.
Corker accused Blitzer of “having a great time” pressing him about his vote, and continued to insist that he had not changed his vote because he could get a kickback from the bill.
The CNN anchor defended himself, saying he was giving the senator a chance to respond to allegations about why he voted for the GOP’s proposal.
“This is not fun. These are critically important issues. You’re a United States senator, Mr. Chairman,” Blitzer said. “You have an enormous responsibility. These tax cuts are going to go forward, they may be great, they may not be great, but it’s your responsibility as a U.S. senator to answer these kinds of questions and it’s certainly not something I’m doing because I want to have fun, I’m doing it because I’m a reporter, I’m a journalist and I’m asking you questions that are legitimate, fair questions, sir.”