The Slatest

Jeff Flake Urges Senate Republicans to “Put Country Over Party” in Impeachment Trial

Jeff Flake is seen at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2018.
Jeff Flake is seen at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C. on December 13, 2018. MANDEL NGAN/Getty Images

Former Republican Sen. Jeff Flake wrote an op-ed for the Washington Post in which he called on his former colleagues to think of the bigger picture and “put country over party” when President Donald Trump’s impeachment trial begins. In the piece, Flake, who represented Arizona in the Senate from 2013 to 2019, told his former colleagues he doesn’t envy the position that they are in right now. “President Trump is on trial. But in a very real sense, so are you. And so is the political party to which we belong,” Flake writes.

The former senator, who was a frequent critic of Trump, called on his former colleagues to put themselves through a “simple test.” And that involves asking, “What if President Barack Obama had engaged in precisely the same behavior?” The answer to that question, Flake says, is obvious: “You would have understood with striking clarity the threat it posed, and you would have known exactly what to do.” Flake is no stranger to disagreeing with his former colleagues. When he announced he would not seek reelection in 2017, Flake said “there may not be a place for a Republican like me in the current Republican climate or the current Republican Party.”

While senators “could reasonably conclude” that what the president did doesn’t warrant removal from office or it doesn’t meet the constitutional standard to remove a president. “But what is indefensible is echoing House Republicans who say that the president has not done anything wrong,” Flake writes. “He has.” Instead though, Americans have been witnessing the “appalling spectacle” of watching House Republicans “bend to the president’s will by attempting to shift blame with the promotion of bizarre and debunked conspiracy theories.” That will have a profound effect not just on the country, the Republican Party, and the reputations of lawmakers as a whole, he added.

“If there ever was a time to put country over party, it is now,” Flake concludes. “And by putting country over party, you might just save the Grand Old Party before it’s too late.”