Sen. Bob Corker, an influential Tennessee Republican, issued one of the GOP’s strongest rebukes of President Donald Trump’s leadership in the wake of the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
Talking with local reporters after a town hall in Tennessee on Thursday, Corker, who had so far declined to criticise the president’s controversial remarks about the protests, argued that anything short of “radical changes” in the White House would leave the nation in “great peril.”
“The president has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability nor some of the competence that he needs to demonstrate in order to be successful,” Corker said. “He also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation. He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today … and without the things that I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”
The senator’s comments come after about a dozen prominent Republicans, including Sens. John McCain, Marco Rubio, and Jeff Flake, criticised Trump’s response to the weekend’s events. Corker has been both a sharp critic and a strong defender of Trump and his administration, and maintains that he agrees with the White House on many core policies.
Corker went on to accuse the president of inspiring division for political gain.
“We’re at a point where there needs to be radical changes that take place at the White House — it has to happen,” Corker went on. “I think the president needs to take stock of the role he plays in our nation and move beyond himself — move way beyond himself and move to a place where daily he’s waking up thinking about what is best for our nation.”
Corker added that a bust of Confederate Army general and Ku Klux Klan member Nathan Bedford Forrest displayed in the Tennessee state capitol building should be moved to a museum. He argued that the building should be filled with “aspirational figures” and that history should be preserved in the appropriate spaces.
Trump was sharply criticised this week for his delayed condemnation of white supremacists who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend for a rally that left one counterprotestor dead and dozens of others injured. Trump on Tuesday defended the protesters, saying “not all of those people were neo-Nazis.”
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