Republican Sen. Flake condemns Trump, says GOP should ‘speak out’ against ‘erratic’ administration
Mark Wilson/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Republican Sen. Jeff Flake, whose willingness to speak out against his party’s presidential nominee last year caught the attention of then-candidate Donald Trump, is airing his grievances again, writing in a new book that his fellow Republicans are overlooking their responsibility to serve as a check on the executive branch.
In an excerpt from Flake’s new book, “The Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle,” published Monday by Politico, the junior senator from Arizona decries the dysfunction cultivated within the executive branch and his colleagues’ reticence to acknowledge Trump’s shortcomings.
“To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial,” writes Flake.
The senator notes the hesitancy within the GOP to fully embrace the businessman-turned-politician during the 2016 election cycle, but also his fellow lawmakers’ seeming disinterest in serving as a check against Trump in the same way they did against a president of another party.
“It was we conservatives who rightly and robustly asserted our constitutional prerogatives as a co-equal branch of government when a Democrat was in the White House but who, despite solemn vows to do the same in the event of a Trump presidency, have maintained an unnerving silence as instability has ensued,” he writes.
Flake was critical of Trump during the presidential campaign and was one of the first sitting Republican lawmakers to publicly voice his disapproval of the nominee. In a notable encounter in July 2016, Trump clashed with Flake at a meeting between the candidate and GOP senators, with Trump reportedly telling Flake he would lose his re-election bid, even though Flake was not on the ballot.
“I want to support our nominee, I really do,” Flake said at the time. “But given some of the statements that have been made, I’m finding it difficult.”
In his book excerpt, Flake questions the meaning of the Republican Party’s “political victories” if its members are willing to allow their principles to be “so malleable as to no longer be principles.”
He ultimately urges the GOP to express their opposition to Trump if he “‘plays to the base’ in ways that damage the Republican Party’s ability to grow and speak to a larger audience.”
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