U.S. President Donald Trump and the powerful chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee publicly traded insults on social media ahead of a key decision on the 2015 deal between global powers and Iran on Tehran's nuclear program.
In a sharply worded exchange, Trump blamed Senator Bob Corker (Republican-Tennessee) for the deal with Iran, which Trump has repeatedly criticized, while Corker said the president could be leading the nation to "World War III."
The confrontation between the two Republicans came amid signs that Trump might decline this week to certify the Iran deal, a move that would add to tension between the United States and Tehran and cause concern among other signatories to the deal.
Corker announced in September that he is retiring from Congress after his current term expires next year, saying he wanted to be free from the political pressures that come with reelection campaigns as he decides how to vote on upcoming legislation.
In a tweet, Trump alleged that Corker had "begged" for his endorsement for reelection and then decided not to run after Trump refused to back him.
Corker "also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said "NO THANKS."' He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!” Trump said in a second tweet.
The 2015 agreement between Iran and six world powers -- the United States, Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia -- put limits on Iran's nuclear program in return for the easing of economic sanctions.
Trump has repeatedly denounced the landmark deal, which was signed under President Barack Obama, and told the UN General Assembly last month that it is "one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into."
Trump faces an October 15 deadline to certify that Iran is in compliance with the accord.
If he decided to "decertify" the deal, Corker -- as chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee -- would play a key role in determining whether U.S. sanctions lifted under the accord would be reinstated.
During the U.S. political debate over the nuclear deal, which was opposed by Republican lawmakers, Corker co-wrote the measure requiring congressional approval for the deal and required the president to certify that Iran was complying every 90 days.
In the past, Corker has said he considers the deal flawed, but he has expressed opposition to scrapping the agreement altogether.
In its latest report on the deal, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on August 31 said that Iran remains in compliance with the terms of the agreement.
Corker was formerly close to Trump. He advised him on national security during the 2016 presidential campaign and was considered as a potential vice presidential running mate or as secretary of state.
In response to Trump's tweets, Corker on October 8 wrote: "It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning."
Since announcing his plans to retire from the Senate, Croker has stepped up his criticism of Trump.
In an interview published October 8 with The New York Times, Corker said Trump was treating his office like “a reality show,” with reckless threats to other countries that could set the nation “on the path to World War III.”
“He concerns me. He would have to concern anyone who cares about our nation,” Corker added.
Asked last week about reported tensions between Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Corker described Tillerson, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly as "those people that help separate our country from chaos."
Corker previously said, "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.”
With reporting by Reuters, AFP, The New York Times, and AP