May 02, 2018

Corker Discusses Foreign Policy, Economy, Senate Tenure on CNBC

New York, N.Y. – During an appearance as a guest host on CNBC’s “Squawk Box” today, U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a member of the Senate Banking Committee and the Senate Budget Committee, discussed the potential for talks with North Korea, the future of the Iran nuclear deal, the administration’s decision to impose new tariffs on steel and aluminum imports, and the economy. The senator also reflected on his Senate tenure and what he hopes to accomplish over the next eight months.

On the potential for talks with North Korea: “This is a great opportunity for our nation, and I hope it goes well. [Mike] Pompeo is the right guy to be Secretary of State right now while that’s happening… There's no question that the administration has done a great job bringing people together to put pressure on North Korea… This is going to be a long process, but again, it's starting out on a very good note, and I’m very happy for our nation… I think, again, going in with a lot of caution and skepticism and knowing this is going to be a long process is where the administration is, where we need to be. It’s where the world needs to be.”

On the future of the Iran nuclear deal: “I think if nothing changes, [President Trump is] definitely leaving the agreement. And so there's this framework that we've been working on for about a year. Our office actually went over to the State Department a year ago knowing where the president was to lay out these three issues. And that is ballistic missile testing, improving, stopping that, doing a better job with inspections, but also this sunset clause. I mean, at the end of 10 years, Iran really is really off and running. Now the people who have negotiated [the nuclear deal] would say not, but they really are off and running. So, getting the Germans, the U.K., the French to agree to a new framework has to occur or I think he moves away.”

On resolving the trade dispute with China: “On the tariff issue, trade wars may be easy to win, but they’re also easy to lose… The big issue is the intellectual property theft that occurs through cyber but also forcing our companies when they do business there to transfer it to a Chinese partner. So, that's got to end. That's where the focus needs to be at the end of the day. I hope all these tariff regimes don't happen. I hope the negotiations are successful. It's sort of been a roving application, hasn't it? And at the end of the day…avoiding a trade war would be a good thing. And I think we will.”

On serving Tennesseans in the Senate: “Let me start by saying it's been the greatest privilege of my life. I came up to the Senate on a mission. I told Tennesseans I was going to serve for two terms. I'll miss it… I spent a lifetime in business before being in the Senate... I want to do something that matters. I’ve been working since I was 13. You know, it's such a privilege to serve the public. On the other hand, can I make a difference in the business world, too? We'll see. But there's eight months left. We want to do everything we can to make a difference. We still have a lot on our plate. But, look, I think for me serving in a missional way, to be independent, to say what's on my mind, to give it all I've got was the right thing for me, and to leave after 12 years is the right thing too.”

On the 2008 financial crisis and the current status of the American economy: “When I first got [to the Senate], the financial crisis, I got a call at 10 o’clock one night. I just joined the Banking Committee. I had just been in the Senate for about a year, year and a half, and was asked to attend a meeting with [then-Secretary of Treasury Henry] Paulson and [then-Chairman of the Federal Reserve Ben] Bernanke and others. We became concerned about whether people were going to be able to get cash out of ATMs, seriously. I played an outsized role during that time, may have been my best public service. So, you go from there to today. You know, business is thriving right now. We have challenges, but, look, I believe in America. I do. This is still the best place in the world to do business. We still have the best innovation. We've got, as I mentioned, challenges, but what an awesome country we have and what great business people we have.”

On what he hopes to accomplish over the next eight months: “Food aid reform. I want to make sure our slavery efforts around the world are fully implanted. Hopefully we'll be successful on an AUMF. We’ve got all kinds of minor issues that are major to the world… And the great thing, Andrew, about my job is, you know, I'm a lawmaker, and I don't like laws. I'm more of an executive kind of person. But we can make a difference on the phone or meeting with people by influencing things, and there's a lot of that we want to do over the next eight months.”