Sen. Flake takes GOP to task over Trump

The Guardian (Charlottetown) - - WORLD -

Sen. Jeff Flake says his fel­low Repub­li­cans have let Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump lead the coun­try away from con­ser­va­tive prin­ci­ples and demo­cratic ideals. But the Ari­zona law­maker pre­dicts they won’t back down if Trump fires the spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor in­ves­ti­gat­ing Rus­sian in­ter­fer­ence in the 2016 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion.

Flake ap­peared on MSNBC’s “Morn­ing Joe’’ on Tues­day and dis­cussed his new book “Con­science of a Con­ser­va­tive’’ in which he ex­pands on his con­cerns for the coun­try. He said he’s par­tic­u­larly con­cerned con­ser­va­tive tenets of free trade and lim­ited gov­ern­ment have been lost to a na­tional lead­er­ship that is er­ratic, mean-spir­ited and self­serv­ing.

Asked what would fi­nally elicit vo­cif­er­ous ob­jec­tions from Repub­li­cans, Flake said the fir­ing of spe­cial pros­e­cu­tor Robert Mueller.

“We can’t stand for that,’’ Flake said. “I don’t think Con­gress will.’’

Flake took his own party to task as well as Democrats, blam­ing both in a new book for the po­lit­i­cal gridlock that led to Trump’s pres­i­dency and its cur­rent chaos.

The de­but of his book comes amid tur­moil in the White House marked by An­thony Scara­mucci’s rocky 11 days as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor and the re­place­ment of the chief of staff. Flake says his fel­low Repub­li­cans are in de­nial about Trump.

The senator says that since the elec­tion con­ser­va­tives have been in de­nial as the gov­ern­ment at its high­est lev­els has be­come dys­func­tional.

“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,’’ Flake wrote in an ex­cerpt pub­lished by Politico.

Flake was highly crit­i­cal of Trump dur­ing the pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, but has sought to reach com­mon ground and backed some of the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s ini­tia­tives, in­clud­ing Se­nate Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell’s backup pro­posal to re­peal the Af­ford­able Care Act and re­place it later. But he wor­ries that Trump’s pen­chant for bom­bast and ridi­cul­ing his op­po­nents works against con­ser­va­tive goals.

“If we as­cribe the worst mo­tives to our op­po­nents and de­mean them and call them clowns or losers, you just lose the abil­ity to sit down and solve the big is­sues and ac­tu­ally en­act con­ser­va­tive pol­icy,’’ Flake told MSNBC. He added, “You know, some­how con­ser­va­tivism has be­come being mean or loud and you can’t en­act con­ser­va­tive pol­icy if you act that way.’’

The book pub­lished by Ran­dom House goes on sale Tues­day.

Flake says in the book that peo­ple who felt aban­doned by the top par­ties were drawn to Trump, “a can­di­date who en­ter­tained them and of­fered over­sim­pli­fied an­swers’’ to com­plex is­sues.

“If by 2017 the con­ser­va­tive bar­gain was to go along for the very bumpy ride be­cause with con­gres­sional hege­mony and the White House we had the num­bers to achieve some long-held pol­icy goals _ even as we put at risk our in­sti­tu­tions and our val­ues _ then it was a very real ques­tion whether any such pol­icy vic­to­ries wouldn’t be Pyrrhic ones,’’ Flake wrote.

AP PHOTO

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, flanked by Small Busi­ness Ad­min­is­tra­tion Ad­min­is­tra­tor Linda McMa­hon, left, and his daugh­ter Ivanka Trump, speaks in the East Room of the White House in Wash­ing­ton, Tues­day.

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