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Trump vs. Corker: President and Key GOP Senator Go to War

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Trump vs. Corker: President and Key GOP Senator Go to War

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President Donald Trump and Republican Sen. Bob Corker went to war on Tuesday, trading personal insults and name-calling on a number of topics.

The latest blows between the two kicked off when Corker said Trump's aggressive comments about North Korea "kneecap" his secretary of state's diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang and move the world closer to war.

"When you send out tweets into the region to raise tensions, when you kneecap, which is what he's done publicly, when you kneecap your secretary of state, whose diplomacy you have to depend upon…you really move our country into a binary choice which could lead to a world war," Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told NBC's "TODAY."

Corker, a key vote on the president's tax-cut plan, also said that Trump's attendance later Tuesday for a lunch with Senate Republicans is just a "photo op" that's "not really about substance."

Trump quickly hit back hard, tweeting that Corker, "who helped President O give us the bad Iran Deal & couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts."

"Corker dropped out of the race in Tennessee when I refused to endorse him, and now is only negative on anything Trump. Look at his record!" Trump added, referring to the lawmaker's announcement last month that he would not run for re-election when his term ends in 2018.

Later, the president insulted the GOP senator as a "lightweight" and called him "liddle Bob Corker."

Corker then responded with his own tweet.

"Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president," he wrote, adding the hashtag, "#AlertTheDaycareStaff." That shot was a reprise of Corker's attack on Trump earlier this month when he tweeted, "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."

Asked later Tuesday by reporters on Capitol Hill if Trump was "debasing" the nation, Corker responded, "I don't think there's any question that that's the case, just in the way that he conducts himself and goes to such a low level."

"It's obvious his political model and governing model is to divide," the senator said.

In another session with reporters, Corker said there had been "multiple occasions" where Trump's "staff has asked me to please intervene when he's getting ready to do something that was off the tracks."

"And, look, I've seen no evolution in an upward way," Corker said. "In fact I would say it appears to me that it's almost devolved."

"You would think he would aspire to be the president of the United States, to act like a president of the United States, but that's just not gonna be the case apparently," he added.

Hours later, the White House hit back once again, when Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders suggested Corker use his "final months" in office to focus on "getting things done."

"Imagine how incredible and how many good things we would be doing if people like Senator Bob Corker got on board and started doing their job, instead of doing so much grandstanding on TV," Sanders said at her press briefing.

The bitter exchange Tuesday was just the latest between the president and the Tennessee Republican, following Trump's public undercutting of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson weeks earlier.

Corker repeated his suggestion Tuesday that "there are people around" Trump, like Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and Chief of Staff John Kelly "that work in an effort to contain" the president and defended his own increasingly harsh criticism of the White house.

"This is the role I believe I should be play for the good of our country and for the good of the world really," he said.

Euronews provides articles from NBC News as a service to its readers, but does not edit the articles it publishes.