As he exits his Senate career, Senator Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) addressed his colleagues in Congress on Thursday in a heartfelt farewell speech, but just couldn’t resist taking one last shot at President Donald Trump on his way out of office.
After reflecting on his time as a legislator, Flake thanked his fellow senators for their “friendships” and the “kindnesses shown to me and my family by all of you.” He then expressed his optimism for the country moving forward, but not without seemingly bashing the Trump administration and its creeping “authoritarianism.”
“To say that our politics is not healthy is something of an understatement,” he began. “I believe that we all know well that this is not a normal time, that the threats to our democracy from within and without are real, and none of us can say with confidence how the situation that we now find ourselves in will turn out.”
“As the authoritarian impulse reasserts itself globally, and global commitment to democracy seems to now be on somewhat shaky ground, I have been thinking a lot recently about the American commitment to democracy — where it comes from, and how, if the circumstances were right, it might slip away.”
Flake then recalled a trip to Namibia in 1990, during which it became clear to him “how vital a beacon the United States is and has always been to the peoples of the world — both to those who are already free and to those who suffer tyranny.”
Watch his full remarks below:
After personally calling on the president to keep that obligation in mind, the senator left the nation with a warning in “this moment of political dysfunction and upheaval”:
“Let us recognize from this place here today that the shadow of tyranny is once again enveloping parts of the globe. And let us recognize as authoritarianism reasserts itself in country after country that we are by no means immune.”
Flake’s veiled digs at President Trump and his administration come at the end of his rocky relationship with the president. The outgoing Republican senator has been a vocal critic of President Trump since he took office, frequently earning the ire of the president in return.