Twitter Tracker: Why POTUS Unloaded on a Senator From Tennessee

Donald Trump

Each day, Variety dissects the inspiration and meaning behind one of President Donald Trump’s tweets.

Today’s tweet:

What’s Behind It: The “strange statement” was Sen. Bob Corker’s criticism of Trump. Last week, Corker, a Republican, told a Tennessee news outlet that 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.” He also called for “radical changes” at the White House.

Why Now: Corker’s remarks, made in response to Trump’s Charlottesville comments, got a lot of attention last week because he’s not known as one of the president’s regular vocal GOP critics. This week, Trump has been on a tear in chiding GOP opposition, with the implicit threat that senators who cross him face potential primary challenges. In the case of Jeff Flake, the Arizona senator who has been among the most visible anti-Trumpers, Trump has said that it was “great to see” that Kelli Ward was challenging him in next year’s primary.

In his tweet, Trump is not-so-subtle in saying that Corker risks a primary challenge in Tennessee. The Tennessean reported on Thursday that a former state representative, Joe Carr, was considering a challenge to Corker next year.

What’s the Fallout: Corker is just the latest GOP senator to be targeted by Trump on Twitter. CNN’s Chris Cillizza says that Trump or his aides have attacked 20% of the Republican Senate caucus. Trump reportedly expressed frustration to Corker over the Russian sanctions bill, which was passed overwhelmingly with bipartisan support. Trump reluctantly signed it, under threat that Congress would override a veto. Coupled with Trump’s attacks on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and the Senate in general, it only adds to the uncertainty going into the fall, as Congress faces a ticking time bomb of having to fund the government and raise the debt ceiling by the end of September.