Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) is under siege by President Donald Trump and his supporters, but that isn’t deterring him from his goal of reforming the tax code, FOX Business has learned.
After days of a constant barrage from Trump, his administration and former advisers over alleged election favors, Corker hasn’t flinched as he stays committed to accomplishing his legislative goals, including the passing of the Republican tax plan, according to those with direct knowledge of the matter, before he officially leaves the Senate in 2019.
This acknowledgement by sources close to the senator comes after Trump took on the Tennessee lawmaker in a tweet storm on Sunday, during which he accused Corker of groveling to him for a reelection endorsement, and claiming that when he refused, the senator chose to retire.
Senator Bob Corker "begged" me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee. I said "NO" and he dropped out (said he could not win without...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
..my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said "NO THANKS." He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 8, 2017
Corker, a Trump ally since the 2016 presidential election and a critical vote to passing tax reform, later responded to the president in a tweet of his own, calling the White House an “adult day care center.”
In a statement on Sunday, Corker’s chief of staff, Todd Womack, refuted Trump’s claim that Corker called him for an endorsement and indicated that it was, in fact, the president who called to convince him to stay on as one of his key allies.
"The president called Sen. Corker on Monday afternoon and asked him to reconsider his decision not to seek reelection and reaffirmed that he would have endorsed him, as he has said many times," Womack said in the statement.
A spokeswoman for Corker did not return repeated emails for comment at the time of publication.
While Corker is committed to seeing tax reform through, he also has some conditions of his own: keeping the deficit in check
“Look Corker is a guy who wants to get things done. He's been an advocate of pro-growth and tax reform since long before President Trump was involved with politics, so I don’t think those two things go together. He has 15 months left and he wants to be active. Corker said this could be the most consequential 15 months ahead. It’s got to be the right final text,” a source said to FOX Business on the condition of anonymity.
Corker, a member of the Senate Budget Committee, made his position clear in a recent interview with National Public Radio. “Unless it reduces deficits and does not add to deficits with reasonable and responsible growth models and unless we can make it permanent, I don't have any interest in it,” Corker said.
The Senate Budget Committee approved their budget blueprint on Friday, which includes $1.5 trillion for comprehensive tax reform and is expected to be put to a vote on the Senate floor by the end of October.
An issue that still lies ahead for the two Republican leaders is finding a way to directly communicate after the tumultuous weekend, according to sources familiar with the matter.
“He is the president, and for the sake of the country, Corker has to figure out how he’s going to work with him,” said a source close to the senator who thinks there's a chance they will be able to move past the feuding.
Trump himself seemed open to moving on from the weekend battle when he said at a meeting with former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger that he did not believe his fractured relationship with Corker would impact his push for tax reform.
When asked by reporters if tax reform could be in peril because of his criticism of Corker, Trump said “I don’t think so.”