Corker turns downs Trump's offer to be ambassador to Australia

Corker turns downs Trump's offer to be ambassador to Australia
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerSenate Dems build huge cash edge in battlegrounds Senate weighs new Russia response amid Trump backlash Trump seeks to quell Russia furor MORE (R-Tenn.), who is retiring after 2018, turned down an offer from the Trump administration to be the next ambassador to Australia.

A spokeswoman for Corker, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, confirmed his decision, which was first reported by The Tennessean.

"I had a number of conversations with both President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want to use 'adversary' to describe Russia Comey urges Americans to vote for Democrats in midterms Roby wins Alabama GOP runoff, overcoming blowback from Trump criticism MORE and [Secretary of State Mike] Pompeo. At the end of the day though … it just felt like it wasn't the right step," Corker told the Tennessee newspaper.

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Corker, who was previously under consideration to be Trump's secretary of State or vice president, said he notified the administration last week that he wouldn't accept the position, which would have started in 2019.

The United States currently doesn't have a Senate-confirmed ambassador to Australia. Trump nominated Admiral Harry Harris for the post earlier this year, before switching him to be the ambassador to South Korea instead.

The last U.S. ambassador, John Berry, resigned from the post in September 2016.

The Australian Financial Review reported earlier Monday that both Corker and Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchOn The Money: Fed chief lays out risks of trade war | Senate floats new Russia sanctions amid Trump backlash | House passes bill to boost business investment Hatch threatens legislative action to rein in Trump tariffs GOP lambasts Trump over performance in Helsinki MORE (R-Utah), who is also retiring after 2018, were top contenders for the job.

Matt Whitlock, Hatch's deputy chief of staff, said Hatch has not had any talks with the administration about the post. 

“Senator Hatch has not had any conversations about an ambassadorship, but looks forward to a well-deserved retirement filled with early bird specials at all you can eat buffets and long walks through Costco," he said.