The Trump Administration is getting a pat on the back from Tennessee Senator Bob Corker, who says he had his doubts about the president on foreign policy.
Corker chairs the Foreign Relations Committee and was in the running to be Secretary of State. When he was being considered for President Trump's top diplomat, Corker says he was worried how the administration talked to him about NATO, China's attitude toward Taiwan and the possibility of being more friendly with Russia. And then there was the hands-off approach to the Middle East.
"I was a little bit concerned about how issues like Syria were being looked at. But [I] was just absolutely thrilled with the approach that was taken the other day," Corker said, referring to the missile strike in Syria.
For years, Corker has suggested the U.S. should get more involved in Syria's civil war. On Russia, Corker says the administration is coming to "a far more realistic view" of a country that Corker calls "a nefarious actor in the world."
"So really on every front thus far, I've seen a really positive evolution," Corker said Wednesday after an early morning question-and-answer session with the Brentwood Rotary Club.
Since Trump's inauguration, Corker says he's had a spike in prime ministers and ambassadors knocking on his door, asking how best to approach the new administration. He says he encourages them to go to the White House and engage the president directly. And Corker gives those face-to-face meetings some credit for what he considers "growth on foreign policy."
"We want more and more people over there," Corker says. "And I think what you've seen is growth on foreign policy."
On North Korea
Corker says the stakes are particularly high in how the U.S. handles North Korea's recent missile tests, especially since China, Russia and Japan are all nearby.
"It's one of those kinds of things where the wrong move can combust and you end up with a conflict that is far greater than anyone could have possibly imagined," Corker says.
The U.S. could increase pressure on China to cut off assistance to North Korea with financial sanctions, Corker says.
As for the Trump Administration's strategy, Corker says he hasn't been fully briefed. While he chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Corker hasn't been in Washington over the last week where he says he'd need to be in order to get a classified briefing.