Few people have gotten more mileage out of superficial opposition to Donald Trump than Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake, who has voted with the president (who he compared to Stalin in January) 84 percent of the time. On Sunday, he went on Meet the Press to say that the GOP’s just gotta get tougher on this Trump guy.
Flake gave a commencement speech at Harvard Law School this week that was critical of Trump, elaborated on his criticisms in an interview with Chuck Todd.
“When the president says things that are just totally wrong, it’s responsibility of members of Congress, particularly those in the president’s party, to stand up and say, “That is not right. Truth is not relative. And there are no alternative facts here,” Flake said. “And I have seen instances where we haven’t done that well. And we’ve got to do it better.”
According to Flake, he’s not the only Republican who feels this way, particularly when it comes to Trump’s intentional screwing with the Russia investigation.
“I can tell you behind the scenes, there is a lot of alarm,” Flake said. “There is concern that the president is laying the groundwork to move on, on Bob Mueller or, or Rosenstein. And if that were to happen, obviously, that would cause a constitutional crisis. There is concern behind the scenes. I’ve been concerned that we haven’t spoken up loudly enough.”
Flake, however, excused his fellow Republicans for not speaking up on the current president because it might hurt them politically. (Flake previously admitted that he likely would have lost his primary he had he run for re-election.)
“This is the president’s party, and if you’re running in a primary right now and you stand up to the president, or stand up in some cases for empirical truth, then you have trouble in primaries,” he said. “So, I do think, as we get through the primary season, perhaps, then many of my colleagues will find a voice, but right now, it’s difficult politically.”
In other words: no one who has anything to lose—like, say, a Republican primary—is going to do shit. But considering Flake and his fellow retiring Sen. Bob Corker have continued to cosign Trump’s policies even though they’re leaving Congress (and Flake actually has something to gain from opposing Trump, as he again refused to rule out the possibility of primarying Trump on Sunday), one should take the notion that a congressional Republicans are going to ever find the courage to fight Trump with a healthy dose of skepticism.