Jeff Flake: "Unfortunately," Donald Trump Has Redefined The Republican Party In His Image

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Sen. Jeff Flake talks to ABC's George Stephanopoulos about how President Trump has redefined the Republican Party to the extent that a conservative such as himself can not win a primary if he opposes the president:

"Unfortunately yes, when John Boehner said the other day this is the president’s party, he was speaking the truth. The Mark Sanford loss clarified something if it wasn’t clarified before. You can’t, as a Republican, these days, stand in opposition to some of the president’s policies or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary. That’s the reality and then we’re seeing that played out.”

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are you prepared to use your other powers to do that? I know that you considered, at least on this issue of tariffs and a couple of other issues, saying that as a member of the Judiciary Committee, you will no longer allow judges to come out of the committee unless there's action on issues like tariffs.



FLAKE: Well, as George Will put it in his column, Article Three branch is important, the courts, certainly. And we approved a number of judges. That is important. But Article One, the Congress, Article Two, the executive are important as well. And I do think that unless we can actually exercise something other than just approving the president's executive calendar, his nominees, judges, that we have no reason to be there. So I think myself and a number of Senators, at least a few of us, will stand up and say let's not move any more judges until we get a vote, for example, on tariffs.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You know, the -- the only Republican president to have higher approval ratings at this point in his term, modern times, than President Trump was George W. Bush after 9/11. He seems to have really consolidated his hold over the Republican party, the Republican electorate. Has he redefined it?

FLAKE: Unfortunately yes. When John Boehner said the other day this is the president’s party, he was speaking the truth. The Mark Sanford loss clarified something if it wasn’t clarified before. You can’t, as a Republican, these days, stand in -- in -- you know, in opposition to some of the president’s policies or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary. That’s the reality and then we’re seeing that played out.

Now, I don’t think that that will last, but that is the reality right now.

STEPHANOPOULOS: You say it may not last. Does that mean that you or someone else be prepared to challenge the president in 2020?

FLAKE: I’ve said many times I hope that somebody does in the Republican primary just to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative or Republican, that we believe in limited government, economic freedom, free trade, immigration. I hope that somebody does that.

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