Jeff Flake Shrugs Off Trump’s Incessant Attacks: That’s His ‘Prerogative’

Tom Williams/CQPHO

The latest Republican target of President Donald Trump’s public criticism is taking the disapproval with a grain of salt.

Appearing on “Fox and Friends” Thursday morning, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) outlined all the things he agrees with Trump on and said it’s the President’s “prerogative” to lash out against whoever he wants to.

I just have to concern myself with my own campaign and my day job of being a senator. So what the President does or—that’s his prerogative,” Flake said. “Obviously you want to work with the President on things like tax reform, which I’m trying to do and other areas like border security, so anything that distracts from that is certainly not good. But that’s the President’s prerogative.”

Trump has been publicly shaming Flake for a week straight. Last Thursday, Trump tweeted praise of Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state legislator considering a primary run against Flake in the 2018. The President also called Flake “toxic” and “weak on borders, crime and a non-factor in the Senate.”

During his campaign rally in Phoenix on Tuesday, he criticized Flake again, without naming him, but proceeded to tweet that he is “not a fan of Jeff Flake” the following morning. And new reports show Trump met with some of Flake’s potential Senate challengers while he was in Phoenix.

Trump’s public complaints about Flake come after the senator spent several weeks appearing on cable news shows, where he called out his party for embracing Trump and abandoning traditional conservative values while promoting his new book “Conscience of a Conservative.”

When asked what the beef is between the two of them, the Arizona senator shrugged.

I don’t know. You know, I will work and vote with the President when I believe he’s right and challenge him when I believe he’s wrong. That’s what I’ve done with every president, Republican or Democrat,” he said. 

Flake said that while he’s simpatico with Trump on his Supreme Court pick, his policy on regulatory reform and his tax policy, he still has issues with the President’s trade policy and “tone.” 

I think that we’re going to need to achieve conservative ends by getting a hold of our debt and deficit. We have to work with our colleagues across the aisle and tone means a lot then,” he said.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Nicole Lafond is a news writer for TPM based in New York City. She is also currently earning a master's degree in journalism from Columbia University and previously worked as an education reporter at The News-Gazette in Champaign, Ill. Follow her on Twitter @Nicole_Lafond.
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