Corker. Photo: J. Scott Applewhite / AP

Republican Sen. Bob Corker, who announced last week that he won't seek re-election in 2018, made a comment to Chuck Todd today that will echo into the coming weeks as Republicans chase their most urgent legislative priority: tax reform.

Corker told the host of NBC's "Meet the Press": "If it looks like to me, Chuck, we're adding one penny to the deficit, I am not going to be for it, OK. I'm sorry. It [national debt] is the greatest threat to our nation..."

Why this matters: Corker will be a pivotal figure in the Senate for the next 15 months, and his vote could be one of a few that decides whether the tax reform bill passes. Plenty of Corker's colleagues would be happy to blow an even bigger hole in the deficit in order to get massive tax cuts, but Corker, who is now a free agent on account of his impending retirement, has laid down a marker. He plans to finish his career as a hardcore deficit hawk.

  • A source close to leadership summed it up this way: "Corker untethered to the electorate is a dangerous Corker."
  • Another senior Republican involved in tax reform told me this after watching the Corker clip: "He's just one vote but McCain voted against the 2001 and 2003 Bush tax cuts. So that is two problems." "Plus Collins, Roy Moore, and potentially Rand" could be additional problems. "Math could get tough depending on the score of the bill."

Watch the full Corker interview here.

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In photos: Thousands evacuated as Southern California fire grows

A plane makes a retardant drop on a ridge at the Apple Fire north of Banning in Riverside County, which "doubled in size" Saturday, per KTLA. Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

A massive wildfire that prompted mandatory evacuations in Southern California over the weekend burned 26,450 acres and was 5% contained by Monday afternoon, the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection said.

The big picture: As California remains an epicenter of the coronavirus pandemic in the U.S., some 15 separate fires are raging across the state. About 7,800 people were under evacuation orders from the Apple Fire, about 75 miles east of Los Angeles, as hundreds of firefighters battled the blaze. CalFire said Monday that a malfunction involving a "diesel-fueled vehicle emitting burning carbon from the exhaust system" started the Apple Fire.

Twitter faces FTC fine of up to $250 million over alleged privacy violations

Photo: Rafael Henrique/SOPA Images/LightRocket

The Federal Trade Commission has accused Twitter of using phone numbers and emails from its users to make targeted ads between 2013 and 2019, Twitter said in an SEC filing published Monday.

Why it matters: Twitter estimates that the FTC's draft complaint, which was sent a few days after its Q2 earnings report, could cost the company between $150 million and $250 million. The complaint is unrelated to the recent Twitter hack involving a bitcoin scam.