In his latest string of criticism against his political party, Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) said he wishes Republicans had done more to stop the repeatedly debunked “birtherism” conspiracy theory that President Barack Obama is not a U.S. citizen when it first emerged.
While he thinks he personally did enough to stand up against the bogus claims, Republicans as a whole should have done more.
“I wish we had, as a party would’ve stood up for example when the birtherism thing was going along,” he said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” “A lot of people did stand up, but not enough. That was particularly ugly.”
President Donald Trump was one of the most vocal proponents of the “birtherism” conspiracy for many years.
He wrote a letter to the editor in the New York Times in 2011, spouting false claims about where the former president was born and the legitimacy of his birth certificate.
He tweeted in 2012 and in 2014 claiming Obama had a fake birth certificate and kept bringing up the issue as late as December 2015.
And as recent as late July, the Senate confirmed Trump’s judicial nomination of Kentucky lawyer and political blogger John Bush, who is known for promoting claims on his blog that Obama wasn’t born in the U.S.
An 'extremely credible source' has called my office and told me that @BarackObama's birth certificate is a fraud.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 6, 2012
Attention all hackers: You are hacking everything else so please hack Obama's college records (destroyed?) and check "place of birth"
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 6, 2014
But the fake “birtherism” claim is not the only conspiracy Flake thinks Republicans should stand up against, saying he thinks his party shouldn’t let their political rallies turn into calls to jail political opponents, which was a common outcry at Trump campaign rallies against his then-opponent Hillary Clinton.
“During rallies, when the chants, ‘Lock her up,’ we shouldn’t be the party for jailing your political opponents. And anybody at that rally, anybody at those rallies ought to stand up and say ‘That’s inappropriate, we shouldn’t be doing that,’” Flake said. “I wish we as a party and as elected officials would do more of that and when particularly ugly conspiracy theories come out or simply fake news stuff that is demonstrably false, we ought to stand up and say ‘Hey, that’s just not right.’”
Flake’s comments are just the latest criticism he’s spouted against Trump and the conservative party as he promotes his book “Conscience of a Conservative.”