Trump reportedly thought Bob Corker was too short to be secretary of state

President Donald Trump escalated his attacks on Sen. Bob Corker, a powerful Tennessee Republican, on Tuesday, calling him "Liddle," apparently mocking the senator's physical size.

The president has reportedly remarked on Corker's size before, telling aides that the 5-foot-7 lawmaker was too short to be his secretary of state, a position that Corker was reportedly in the running for.

Corker, who has been critical of Trump for the past several months, made headlines last week when he accused Trump of undermining Secretary of State Rex Tillerson's efforts to establish diplomatic channels with North Korea amid heightening tensions with the rogue nation. Corker also said that Tillerson, Defense Secretary James Mattis, and White House chief of staff John Kelly are "those people that help separate our country from chaos."

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U.S. President Donald Trump and U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) attend a working dinner with Latin American leaders in New York, U.S., September 18, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson looks toward President Donald Trump during the 9/11 observance at the National 9/11 Pentagon Memorial in Arlington, Virginia, U.S., September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
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US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson takes off his glasses after delivering a statement on Iran in the Treaty Room of the State Department in Washington, DC, on April 19, 2017. US President Donald Trump's administration has launched a review of the Iran nuclear deal, officials said April 18, branding it a 'failed approach' to the threat posed by the Tehran regime. / AFP PHOTO / MANDEL NGAN (Photo credit should read MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - FEBRUARY 28: (AFP OUT) US President Donald Trump greets Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin (C) and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson (R) on his way out after delivering his first address to a joint session of Congress on February 28, 2017 in the House chamber of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, DC. Trump's first address to Congress focused on national security, tax and regulatory reform, the economy, and healthcare. (Photo by Jim Lo Scalzo - Pool/Getty Images)
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Following Corker's comments, Trump claimed that the senator sought his endorsement before deciding against seeking reelection in 2018, an assertion Corker's office disputed, saying the president had offered to endorse the senator just last week.

"Senator Bob Corker 'begged' me to endorse him for re-election in Tennessee," Trump wrote in a pair of tweets. "I said 'NO' and he dropped out (said he could not win without...my endorsement). He also wanted to be Secretary of State, I said 'NO THANKS.' He is also largely responsible for the horrendous Iran Deal!"

An hour later, Corker responded on Twitter attacking the president's competency.

"It's a shame the White House has become an adult day care center. Someone obviously missed their shift this morning," he wrote.

On Monday, The New York Times published an interview with Corker in which the senator said the president could start "World War III" and repeated his claim that the White House is barely under control.

In response, Trump accused the Times of secretly recording Corker's interview, despite the senator's explicit acknowledgement at the beginning of the interview that it was being recorded both by the Times and by two of his aides.

"The Failing @nytimes set Liddle' Bob Corker up by recording his conversation," the president wrote. "Was made to sound a fool, and that's what I am dealing with!"

Republican lawmakers and the president's aides reportedly fear that Trump's feud with Corker will derail the administration's efforts to pass a tax overhaul. Corker, a deficit hawk, has been critical of the GOP's tax plan, which he is worried could balloon the federal deficit by $1.5 trillion.

Republicans hold a slim 52-vote majority in the Senate and can afford to lose only two votes to pass a tax overhaul, making Corker's support of the administration crucial.

Trump has a history of assigning unflattering nicknames to politicians he dislikes — calling Sen. Ted Cruz "Lyin' Ted" and Hillary Clinton "Crooked Hillary" — and he's repeatedly made remarks, both degrading and complimentary, about the stature of male politicians.

He took to calling Sen. Marco Rubio "Little Marco" during the 2016 presidential campaign, and recently dubbed Alabama Sen. Luther Strange, who is 6-foot-9, "Big Luther."

Sonam Sheth and Bryan Logan contributed to this report.

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