WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator Bob Corker eviscerated President Donald Trump on Tuesday after the two Republicans exchanged insults on Twitter, saying the president is consistently untruthful and has debased the United States and damaged its standing around the world.
"The president has great difficulty with the truth on many issues," Corker said in a CNN interview at the Capitol, where Trump was due to meet with senators later in the day to seek consensus on a tax reform plan.
"It's amazing. Unfortunately world leaders are very aware that much of what he says is untrue," Corker continued. "Certainly people here are because these things are provably untrue. They're just factually incorrect and people know the difference."
Although a foreign policy specialist, Corker is also a key player in the tax debate. His support could be crucial as Republicans seek passage of the White House-backed tax plan in the closely divided Senate.
The senator from Tennessee, who recently announced he was not seeking re-election, pulled no punches in his onslaught against Trump, acknowledging that tensions between the two men, once allies, have been building for months.
He assailed Trump for telling falsehoods that are easily disproven and questioned why he persisted in doing so.
"I don't know why he lowers himself to such a low, low standard and debases our country in that way but he does but he does."
"He is purposely breaking down relationships we have around the world that had been useful to our nation...I think the debasement of our nation is what he'll be remembered most for."
The latest exchange between the two Republicans was triggered by Trump in a salvo on Twitter in which he anticipated opposition from Corker for his administration's tax reform plan.
"Bob Corker, who ... couldn't get elected dog catcher in Tennessee, is now fighting Tax Cuts," Trump wrote on Twitter.
That prompted a retort on Twitter from Corker, "Same untruths from an utterly untruthful president."
With the tax plan, Trump is hoping to notch up his first major legislative win - something that has so far eluded him even though Republicans control the White House and both chambers of Congress.
(Reporting by Doina Chiacu and Makini Brice; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Frances Kerry)