National Security

Outgoing Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake Wants a Republican to Challenge Trump in 2020

Speaking on CNN, he insisted foreign policy must have 'values,' talked of the Mueller investigation — and looked two years out

Image Credit: Screenshot, NBC

“Values have to undergird our foreign policy everywhere,” insisted outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) on Sunday morning in response to the news from the CIA that Saudi Arabia’s crown prince, Mohammad Bin Salman Al Saud (MBS), likely ordered the death of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.

The Central Intelligence Agency’s full report will be issued on Tuesday.

“There are things that we are going to have to confront here soon,” Flake added, speaking on CNN’s “State of the Union” to host Jake Tapper.

“And I hope we do it based on the truth, not on something that we simply want to see because we have a lot invested in the relationship with the crown prince now,” Flake said.

The Arizona senator urged action on bipartisan legislation introduced by Sen. Bob Corker (R-Tenn.).

It would address Saudi Arabia’s involvement in the situation in Yemen; Flake added that the kingdom has already failed to live up to some of its commitments there.

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Flake also co-sponsored bipartisan legislation back in April related to protecting the Robert Mueller investigation, which is examining the possibility of interference from Russian interests in the 2016 presidential campaign.

Flake declared last week he would not vote — neither in the Senate Judiciary Committee nor on the Senate floor — for any more judicial nominees until the Mueller protection legislation gets a vote.

Related: Mike Lee: I Don’t Like Flake’s ‘Unconstitutional’ Play for Mueller Protection Vote

The legislation passed out of the committee by a vote of 14-7.

Flake’s Republican colleagues have not joined him in this call to refuse to vote for further judicial nominees until the Mueller protection-related legislation is voted upon.

Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) was among those who supported it.

Flake’s Republican colleagues have not joined him in this call to refuse to vote for further judicial nominees until the Mueller protection-related legislation is voted upon, it should be noted.

“This has to be [the] priority now,” insisted Flake on Sunday. “We have a situation where the president has fired the attorney general and has installed and has given responsibility for the Mueller investigation to somebody who has not been confirmed by the Senate and somebody who has expressed hostility to the Mueller investigation.”

“It’s worth using a little leverage here,” he added.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) and soon-to-be-chairman of the House’s judiciary committee, Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.), have also urged that the Mueller protection legislation be attached to the Mueller protection bill, potentially forcing a government shutdown if legislators to refuse to vote for it.

“I would sure like to see it as part of the spending plan, because that will make [the Mueller protection legislation] law,” said Flake. “I hope that they continue to push for that.”

He also explained that the first step is to bring his Mueller protection bill to the floor for a vote, which he predicts would pass with a “pretty big majority.”

Should that occur, Flake says the likelihood the legislation would also be attached to the spending bill is much greater.

Moving to the topic of Democrat Krysten Sinema’s midterm win in the Senate over Republican Martha McSally, Flake said Arizona is “certainly” a winnable state for Democrats in the 2020 presidential election.

The never-Trumper called Arizona a “nominally Republican state.”

“You cannot run as someone who is just tied at the hip with the president,” insisted Flake — and win statewide in Arizona.

“Voters in Arizona are rejecting that, and I think we’re seeing that elsewhere in the country, as well,” he said, adding that he was “very concerned” about the future of the Republican party.

Flake also said that he believes a Republican should challenge Trump in 2020.

“Somebody needs to run on the Republican side, if nothing else, to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative … and what it means to be decent as well.”

Michele Blood is a Flemington, New Jersey-based freelance writer and regular contributor to LifeZette.

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