Jeff Flake is going out with a bang, and Donald Trump is not going to like it.
The Republican senator from Arizona announced on Tuesday that he’s not running for re-election in 2018. And then he denounced President Donald Trump and everything Trump represents on the Senate floor.
“We must never regard as ‘normal’ the regular and casual undermining of our democratic norms and ideals,” Flake said, according to his prepared speech.
He continued, “Reckless, outrageous, and undignified behavior has become excused and countenanced as ‘telling it like it is,’ when it is actually just reckless, outrageous, and undignified.”
“And when such behavior emanates from the top of our government, it is something else: It is dangerous to a democracy.”
He also laid into Republican politicians, who have enabled Trump by biting their tongues when he goes off the rails.
“When we remain silent and fail to act when we know that that silence and inaction is the wrong thing to do — because of political considerations, because we might make enemies, because we might alienate the base, because we might provoke a primary challenge, because ad infinitum, ad nauseum — when we succumb to those considerations in spite of what should be greater considerations and imperatives in defense of the institutions of our liberty, then we dishonor our principles and forsake our obligations.”
“Despotism loves a vacuum”
Finally, he warned that abandoning our values would benefit America’s enemies.
“Despotism loves a vacuum. And our allies are now looking elsewhere for leadership. Why are they doing this? None of this is normal. And what do we as United States Senators have to say about it?”
Reaction was split between those who found Flake brave for standing up to Trump and his own party …
Senator Jeff Flake’s speech on the Senate floor right now is an extraordinary moment in Trump’s America.
— Philip Rucker (@PhilipRucker) October 24, 2017
Don’t say this loosely, but we’re watching history today. Whatever is next, senators are placing hard bets on the future of America in 2017.
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) October 24, 2017
Jeff Flake’s speech on the Senate floor will end up in the history books.
— Kasie Hunt (@kasie) October 24, 2017
… to those who noted that Flake still supported much of Trump’s agenda, and faced a tough primary and general election in 2018, which means it’s no guarantee he’d win anyway.
Jeff Flake amends the Pottery Barn Rule: “You break it, you walk away.”
— ian bremmer (@ianbremmer) October 24, 2017
Regardless, Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell now have one more Republican enemy in Congress. Sen. Bob Corker announced last month that he also wasn’t running for re-election in 2018, and hasn’t been shy about his disdain for the president.
And John McCain — who torpedoed Trump’s health care plan — has also been speaking out against the president. On Tuesday, McCain tweeted his support for his fellow Arizona senator.
Donald Trump spent Tuesday morning slamming Corker with childish insults. It’s a pretty good bet he’s about to rage-tweet about Flake very soon.