Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) accused President Donald Trump of manufacturing a government shutdown to please his core supporters, after promising to construct a wall on the southern U.S. border that Mexico would pay for.
“This is a made-up fight so the president can look like he’s fighting, but even if he wins, our borders are going to be insecure,” Corker, who is retiring at the end of the year, said Sunday in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“It’s juvenile. The whole thing is juvenile,” he added.
The federal government partially shut down on Friday, forcing hundreds of thousands of federal workers off the job. Most essential government agencies, including the FBI, the Border Patrol and the Coast Guard, will remain open.
Talks to fully fund the government have broken down amid Trump’s demand for $5 billion to begin construction of the wall. While a spending proposal including unpaid-for money for the wall passed the GOP-led House, its progress has stalled in the Senate, where Democrats have ardently rejected Trump’s demands.
“It’s very possible that this shutdown will go beyond the 28th [of December] and into the new Congress,” Mick Mulvaney, the director of the Office of Management and Budget, said Sunday on ABC’s “This Week.“
Mulvaney, who is set to take on the role of acting White House chief of staff next year, added that Vice President Mike Pence gave Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer a counteroffer in a meeting on Capitol Hill on Saturday below the $5 billion figure and that the “the ball is in their court.”
The Senate initially passed a bill that would have funded the government until February and did not include money designated for construction of the wall. Any senator could have objected to the measure ― but none did. Republicans, including Pence, even told reporters afterward they had confidence that the president would sign it into law and avert a shutdown.
Critical coverage by conservative radio talk show hosts Rush Limbaugh and Ann Coulter appeared to have pushed Trump toward favoring a veto, however. Coulter warned at one point that Trump’s administration could become a “joke presidency who scammed the American people” if he wasn’t able to get the wall built and said she wouldn’t vote for him in 2020 if he didn’t.
During a hallway interview on Capitol Hill, a perplexed Corker, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman, lamented that Trump is being controlled by the opinions of talk-radio hosts, equating their influence over the last 24 hours to “tyranny.”
“We have two talk radio hosts who influenced the president,” Corker told CNN. “That’s tyranny, isn’t it?”
Reacting to that interview on Sunday, Trump tweeted that the senator decided to retire because he refused to endorse Corker’s re-election bid. A top aide to Corker denied that claim last year, however. The aide said the president initially asked the senator to reconsider his decision to retire and that Trump even offered his endorsement.
Corker shot back with a tweet of his own on Sunday, alluding to a comment he made in October 2017 calling the White House “an adult day care center.”
This story has been updated to include a reaction from President Donald Trump and Sen. Bob Corker’s response.