Corker: GOP becoming 'cult-like' on Trump

GOP Sen. Bob CorkerRobert (Bob) Phillips CorkerPress: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Press: How 'Nervous Nancy' trumped Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (Tenn.) warned on Wednesday that members of his party are becoming "cult-like" in their support of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump defends Stephanopolous interview Trump defends Stephanopolous interview Buttigieg on offers of foreign intel: 'Just call the FBI' MORE, pointing to leadership's unwillingness to challenge the White House on tariffs. 

"We are in a strange place. I mean, it’s almost, it’s becoming a cultish thing, isn’t it? And it’s not a good place for any party to end up with a cult-like situation as it relates to a president that happens to be of — purportedly, of the same party," Corker told reporters. 

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Pressed on whether he feels Republicans are currently in a "cult-like situation," Corker acknowledged that there are some GOP lawmakers who stand up to Trump and it would be "unfair to try to say" that "about every member." 

"[But] is leadership in general not wishing to poke the bear? Absolutely, because it's all about the next election, right?" said Corker, who is retiring after 2018. 
 
Corker's comments come after he was blocked from getting a vote on his bill to rein in Trump on tariffs. His bill, which is backed by roughly a dozen senators, would require congressional approval if Trump wanted to impose tariffs in the name of national security. 
 
Corker added on Wednesday that leadership is "wary" of upsetting the president and "there's a definite fear there." 
 
"It's not a good place for us to be. You know, I think about the things that we, generally speaking, have stood for ... sort of where the Republican Party has been traditionally and were it is today is quite divergent," Corker told reporters. 
 
Trump sparked a backlash from GOP lawmakers with his decision to impose steep tariffs on steel and aluminum imports from the European Union, Canada and Mexico. 
 
But GOP leadership, as well as many rank-and-file members, have shown little interest in legislation that would rein in Trump. 
 
Such a move would set up a high-stakes showdown between the president and members of his own party months before a midterm election, and likely provoke Trump to lash out at individual members. 
 
"There's no question that leadership in general is wary of doing anything that might upset the president. I mean, we're going to be here during recess, generally speaking, which is fine with me but, look, it's more about Trump being upset than it is about anything else," Corker said. 
 
Corker's comments echo that of MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Wednesday's "Morning Joe," with the former GOP congressman arguing that "primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult."

"There is no more conservative person on protecting tax dollars, balancing the budget, paying down the debt," Scarborough said of GOP Rep. Mark SanfordMarshall (Mark) Clement SanfordDemocrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Democrats needle GOP on standing up to Trump Amash gets standing ovation at first town hall after calling for Trump's impeachment MORE (S.C.), who lost his primary on Tuesday night as his opponent labeled him a Trump critic. Trump also tweeted 11th-hour criticism of Sanford on Tuesday afternoon.
 
"But primary voters said no, we don’t care that he’s one of the most conservative people in Congress. He said one or two bad things about Trump," said Scarborough.

“Why don’t we just say it has devolved into a cult? Primary voters in the Republican Party have devolved into a Trumpist cult," the host added. 

--Joe Concha contributed