Republican Sen. Jeff Flake said he “can’t continue with this kind of politics” in explaining his surprise announcement Tuesday that he will not seek re-election in 2018.
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“I just can’t continue with this kind of politics,” the junior Arizona senator said on “Good Morning America” today. “I couldn’t go on and run the kind of campaign that I wanted to run and win in this kind of Republican Party.”
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Flake said Tuesday he would retire from the Senate when his term is up in 2019, but also used his announcement to deliver an impassioned speech against President Trump. Flake chose not to support Trump, his party’s candidate for president, in the 2016 election and was critical of Trump in his book “Conscience of a Conservative,” which was published in August.
“We’ve gotten nine months into the administration; those of us who had hoped for a pivot, I think, agree now it’s just not going to come and so it’s up to us to stand up and say this is not acceptable,” Flake said on “GMA,” echoing his speech to the Senate Tuesday.
Sen. Bob Corker, another Republican who’s retiring, called the president “utterly untruthful” and accused Trump of “debasing” the United States just before Flake took to the Senate floor to say he would not be “complicit or silent” in regard to the president and his behavior.
“A lot of my colleagues have spoken out and I think a lot more will,” Flake said on “GMA.”
Congress should “certainly” act if Trump follows through on some of the threats he has made. He cited Trump’s threat to revoke television network licenses as an example, which critics have argued is a threat to the First Amendment.
Flake argued that his colleagues must also “speak out against the tweeting and the behavior that just isn’t becoming and is beneath the office of the president.”
Flake also didn’t rule out challenging Trump in 2020 for the Republican nomination. “You know, that’s a long time away. And we’ll deal with that when it comes to it,” he said.
With 14 months left in his term, Flake said he plans on focusing on pushing for an Authorization for Use of Military Force and finding a solution to the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) immigration program that the Trump administration announced last month it will wind down.