Outgoing Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake has not ruled out a run against President Donald Trump in 2020.
In an interview Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Flake said, “It’s not in my plans. But I have not ruled anything out.”
He added, “I do hope that somebody runs on the Republican side other than the president, if nothing else, simply to remind Republicans what conservatism is. And what Republicans have traditionally stood for.”
Flake argued that Republicans in Congress must “push back harder” if Trump seeks to shut down the Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.
Flake accused Trump of “obviously probing the edges as much as he can to see how far Congress will go, and we’ve got to push back harder than we have.”
EARLIER: Sen Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) doesn’t rule out at 2020 run for the White House #MTP
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) May 27, 2018
The senator believes Trump was wrong to refer to the alleged FBI surveillance of his campaign as “spygate,” labeling it a “diversion tactic.”
“The president had this diversion tactic, obviously, with so-called ‘spygate,'” Flake said. “I don’t think any of us were referring to it in that way. But Republicans in Congress said no.”
He lauded those congressional Republicans who called for Democrats to be able to be briefed by the Justice Department last week on actions by the FBI, including the role of informants, during the 2016 presidential race.
Flake has staked his ground, along with fellow Arizonan Sen. John McCain, as being among the harshest critics of the 45th president within the Republican ranks serving in Congress.
Flake announced his retirement last October as he faced the very likely prospect of being defeated in the Arizona Republican primary — and if he succeeded in becoming the party’s nominee, losing in the general election.
Polling last September showed Flake trailing former State Sen. Kelli Ward by more than 20 points in a Republican Party primary matchup.
A survey released last summer found Flake having the lowest approval rating of any senator up for re-election at just 18 percent.
Meanwhile, 62 percent of respondents said they disapproved of his performance.
“This is the president’s party, and if you’re running in a primary right now and you stand up to the president, or stand up in some cases for empirical truth, then you have trouble in primaries,” Flake told “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd.
“And that’s no doubt. So, I do think, as we get through the primary season, perhaps, then many of my colleagues will find a voice, but right now, it’s difficult politically.”
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