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TOP OF MIND TODAY…
► President Trump is escalating his war of words with Tennessee Sen. Bob Corker. On Sunday, Corker responded to attacks from Trump with a Tweet that clearly got Trump’s goat, and nothing motivates the President more than a Twitter fight. But as the Washington Post reports, Corker’s claims about a chaotic White House are not at all unfounded:
Frustrated by his Cabinet and angry that he has not received enough credit for his handling of three successive hurricanes, President Trump is now lashing out, rupturing alliances and imperiling his legislative agenda, numerous White House officials and outside advisers said Monday.
In a matter of days, Trump has torched bridges all around him, nearly imploded an informal deal with Democrats to protect young undocumented immigrants brought to the country as children, and plunged himself into the culture wars on issues ranging from birth control to the national anthem.
In doing so, Trump is laboring to solidify his standing with his populist base and return to the comforts of his campaign — especially after the embarrassing defeat of Sen. Luther Strange in last month’s Alabama GOP special election, despite the president’s trip there to campaign with the senator.
Sen. Bob Corker’s brutal assessment of Trump’s fitness for office — warning that the president’s reckless behavior could launch the nation “on the path to World War III” — also hit like a thunderclap inside the White House, where aides feared possible ripple effects among other Republicans on Capitol Hill.
As CNN reports, the feud between Trump and Corker is indicative of a broader civil war within the Republican Party:
The first [rule] is that there are now effectively two Republican parties — one dominated by Trump and his uber-loyal followers, for whom his feud with Corker represents exactly the kind of disruption they hoped to see him unleash. The other GOP, meanwhile, is made up of establishment, orthodox conservatives like the Tennessee senator and his Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who want to use their power to legislate and fret about Trump’s global leadership.
The second rule of last year’s Republican primary circus is one that Corker is now daring to confound — namely that no one who gets down in the muck with a brutal political street-fighter like Trump comes out clean or unscathed. Trump’s showdown with Corker, which went nuclear over the weekend, will go a long way to deciding the state of the GOP as it musters for midterm elections next year — at which its monopoly in Washington will be on the line.
As Politico reports, many Republicans are really, really, really wishing that Trump would just stop fanning the flames of the GOP’s problems.
► The Denver Post wonders what happened to Sen. Cory Gardner’s critiques of last year’s nuclear deal with Iran:
When Barack Obama was in the White House, U.S. Sen. Cory Gardner was blunt in his opposition to a nuclear deal with Iran — calling it a “tragic mistake” when the terms were implemented at the beginning of last year.
But now Gardner won’t say whether it would be the right move if President Donald Trump decides to take a step back from the international accord. Nor would the Colorado Republican provide a clear answer on whether he thinks Congress should again slap sanctions on Iran if Trump doesn’t certify the deal before an approaching Oct. 15 deadline.
“I think there (are) a lot of pieces that have to be answered before I can affirmatively say that — including whether the president makes the request for those sanctions to be reissued,” Gardner said in a phone interview with The Denver Post.
This is such a typical Gardner response that we could have written it ourselves; it would be hard to be more disingenuous than Gardner on just about any issue.
Get even more smarter after the jump…