As the fallout from President Donald Trump's Monday press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin continues to spread, some Republican lawmakers appear to have reached their limit on Trump's coddling of dictators and undermining of American intelligence agencies.
On Tuesday, Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), once a staunch supporter of the president, issued a blistering rebuke of Trump on Twitter that reads as if it were written by the Democrats.
"The dam is finally breaking. Thankfully," Corker wrote. "As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allies and further strengthens Putin."
The dam is finally breaking. Thankfully. As the president taxes Americans with tariffs, he pushes away our allie… https://t.co/3aIHtOVsiP— Senator Bob Corker (@Senator Bob Corker) 1531838239.0
Corker's call for legislation is vague but may be related to tariffs Trump imposed on imported steel and aluminum this spring. Under the Constitution, the power to levy taxes lies with Congress.
In June, Corker introduced a bill to give Congress the authority to approve tariffs enacted by the president "under the auspices of national security," which Trump used as an excuse to tax imports from American trading allies.
The bill was sponsored by a bi-partisan group of nine Senators from both political parties. Corker's tweet may indicate a new push to get the Senate to vote on the measure, which would serve as a check on Trump's risky approaches to trade.
Trump urged Corker and Republicans to "back off," claiming the legislation would limit his ability to negotiate.
“It’s a difference of opinion,” Corker said. “He [Trump] feels that this takes away his negotiating ability, and this in no way takes away his negotiating ability. It’s not any different from him meeting with Kim Jong Un, and, if they reach a deal, him bringing it to the Congress for approval. I’ve explained it’s exactly the same thing.
“He’s obviously not pleased with this effort,” the Senator added. “We had a heartfelt conversation. Finally, a lot of time had gone by, and I had other meetings.”
Twitter followers chimed in with their thoughts and were mostly in agreement with Corker's tweet.
@EdKrassen @SenBobCorker About time, Senator. You didn't see this mess coming?— Henry Ehrlich (@Henry Ehrlich) 1531839517.0
@SenBobCorker Maintain this spine, Senator. Tweeting isn’t legislating.— The Hoarse Whisperer (@The Hoarse Whisperer) 1531847436.0
One user, who claims to be a lifelong Republican, has had enough and plans to vote "straight Democrat" in November's midterms.
@SenBobCorker @jojake111 @SenBobCorker I have been a Republican my whole life...back when it meant something differ… https://t.co/PN1vANaCmx— Roseyella (@Roseyella) 1531839109.0
Others called for Corker to leave the GOP, which he could do consequence-free. Corker is retiring from the Senate at the end of his current term, and with the Senate split 51-49, Corker defecting from Republicans could make all the difference in passing a law that can rein in Trump.
@SenBobCorker Senator, respectfully, the Majority Leader will never allow that. Have we reached the point when you… https://t.co/GYxFkaQfDK— Andrew Vahrenkamp (@Andrew Vahrenkamp) 1531838836.0
@SenBobCorker The Senate is split 51-49. Two defectors from the GOP caucus bring the whole thing to a grinding halt… https://t.co/jFjPhnjnDf— New Colossus (@New Colossus) 1531843190.0
@New_Colossus_ @SenBobCorker @SenateGOP With McCain sidelined for health, it's really 50-49. Senator Corker COULD b… https://t.co/Q5juLNyu2P— Licked by Pumba (@Licked by Pumba) 1531845392.0
@SenBobCorker Mr Corker, Trump has and is moving to align with Russia against the rest of the world. Please vote wi… https://t.co/ixWNc1jGWD— Stupider & Watergateyer 🤪🤡💩⚠️😬 (@Stupider & Watergateyer 🤪🤡💩⚠️😬) 1531843355.0
Some, however, expressed doubts over whether Republicans will take any meaningful action to check Trump's flagrant abuse of power.
@LaurenceTobias1 @AACMaven @dumptrump1234 @EdKrassen @SenBobCorker This will last for maybe a few hours. Then back to business as usual.— Greg Ellner (@Greg Ellner) 1531842217.0
@GregoryEllner @Tj16209094 @LaurenceTobias1 @AACMaven @dumptrump1234 @EdKrassen @SenBobCorker The redirect has alre… https://t.co/gmXdtUA2hl— Jerry Roberts (@Jerry Roberts) 1531842531.0
Could impeachment be on the table? It's unlikely, but that isn't quelling calls for it.
@SenBobCorker There some articles of impeachment sitting in the House...maybe they could come up for a vote?— Eric Garland (@Eric Garland) 1531842038.0
Corker's Tuesday tweet is the latest example of his dissent against the president. On Monday, the Tennessee Republican said Trump's refusal to hold Putin accountable for interfering in the 2016 presidential election made the U.S. look like a "pushover."
"Everyone who’s dealt with Putin understands fully that the best way to deal with him is through strength, and I just felt like the president’s comments made us look as a nation more like a pushover," Corker, who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, told reporters in Washington. “I did not think this was a good moment for our country."
"I think this was a very good day for President Putin," he added.
Other high-profile Republicans have also come out against Trump's remarks in Helsinki, which many have called treasonous.
Marsha Blackburn, the Republican Congresswoman from Tennessee running to replace Corker, echoed his sentiments.
“Russia is an adversary, and our intelligence agencies concluded that they meddled in the 2016 election,” Blackburn said. “From their annexation of Crimea to their involvement in Syria, Russian aggression has been escalating for several years."
Blackburn then referred to Russia as a "bad actor."
"Our foreign policy must be shaped around these facts, which are incontrovertible" she added. "Russia is a bad actor, and we must treat them as such. They have been focused on our demise for decades.”
“The president has been more reluctant than most to weigh into the idea that Russia did it and they’re still doing it,” said Senator Lindsey O. Graham (R-SC). “He felt that would undermine his own election.”
“I’ve said a number of times and I’ll say it again: The Russians are not our friends and I entirely believe the assessment of our intelligence community,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said.
Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, a Republican appointed by Trump, condemned the president's defense of Russia following the press conference in Finland.
"We have been clear in our assessments of Russian meddling in the 2016 election and their ongoing, pervasive efforts to undermine our democracy, and we will continue to provide unvarnished and objective intelligence in support of our national security," Coats wrote in a statement.
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio also blasted Trump's denial of Russian interference in our election.
“What the president said today is not accurate," he said. "The intelligence community has assembled probably an unparalleled amount of evidence in regards to the Russian, not just efforts to interfere in 2016, but ongoing efforts to interfere in American society."