The soon-to-be-retiring senator is stirring things up on Capitol Hill as he set out to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller by refusing to vote for the president’s judicial picks until legislation moves forward.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) appeared on CNN though where he said if he weren’t heading out of the door soon, he probably wouldn’t be blocking President Donald Trump’s nominees.
“So my commitment to not vote for judges before the committee or on the floor until we get this done stands,” Flake said earlier this week.
Special Counsel Mueller must be allowed to finish his investigation. Tomorrow, Sen. @ChrisCoons and I will again call for unanimous consent to bring S. 2644, which will protect the Special Counsel, to the Senate floor for a vote. https://t.co/HgPMo6Iu6X
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 27, 2018
On CNN, Flake reiterated the need to protect the special council’s office, adding that confirming judges is also important, but the legislation on Mueller “has to be priority now.”
The senator added that he has leverage “because we have a narrow majority on the Judiciary Committee, and so I’m using it. You use leverage to get votes to the floor that should be on the floor.”
CNN host Poppy Harlow mentioned Flake saying on a “60 Minutes” interview, “I couldn’t have done this, I couldn’t have reached across the aisle if I were running again” — then asked if he would have done this if he were running again.
Flake answered: “probably not. But it’s not that it shouldn’t be done.”
“I just felt it was important to do. You have to take a stand, and we’ve got to protect the special counsel. We don’t want to the provoke a constitutional crisis. I think it’s for the good of the country. I really do.”
Watch the video below:
Not only is @JeffFlake taking a stand blocking *all* judicial nominees until a vote on legislation to protect #Mueller is brought for a full vote — he tells me he likely *couldn't* have done so if he were running again. WATCH here: pic.twitter.com/VEcht7vOP3
— Poppy Harlow (@PoppyHarlowCNN) November 30, 2018
Flake’s stance left 21 judicial nominees votes to be put on hold in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Many weren’t too happy with Flake as fellow Republican leaders spoke out against his stance.
“I don’t think that was a smart move,” Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) said, Politico reported. “It’s starting to irritate people … He’s a good guy. But I think he’s carrying it a little bit far.”
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) called Flake’s move “not productive,” adding that Flake, a Republican senator, blocking “strong constitutionalist judges” is “frustrating the promises we made to the voters.”
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee also called out Flake’s move labeling him as a “selfish narcissist” whose hatred toward the president “exceeds his sense of duty,” as IJR Red noted.
Flake’s recent comment about not voting against Trump’s judicial picks if he weren’t retiring comes just days before Flake will be succeeded by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema on January 3.