Remember when impeachment and removal talk was limited to the fringe, and voicing it was a sign of extremism? Good times, good times. Calling his speech an attempt to “ignite a movement,” Norah O’Donnell hit retiring Senator Jeff Flake with a challenge earlier today on CBS This Morning. “If he is dangerous to democracy as you say,” O’Donnell asks, “should he be removed from office?”
Flake must have wondered if he got his media hits mixed up with an appearance on The Young Turks:
— CBS News (@CBSNews) October 25, 2017
“I don’t think any of those remedies are justified, I really don’t,” Flake responds. Taking action, Flake says, requires elected officials to simply stand up publicly to Trump. Congress needs to act — legislatively — if Trump “threatens the First Amendment” again, Flake said.
Of course, standing up to Trump in public is what Flake, Bob Corker, and John McCain have been doing most of the year. In fact, Flake had been doing it so much lately that he wrote a book rebuking Trump and published it this summer, and did the same yesterday. NPR’s Domenico Montanaro wonders what the fuss is about:
Yeah, I’m still scratching my head about what a big deal really Flake’s speech was at all when he wrote a book already critical and he quit https://t.co/WhNTUOqcs0
— Domenico Montanaro (@DomenicoNPR) October 25, 2017
For that matter, why quit? If Trump is that bad and the GOP heading in the wrong direction, wouldn’t that be a reason to stick around? Trump had something to say about that this morning, naturally:
The reason Flake and Corker dropped out of the Senate race is very simple, they had zero chance of being elected. Now act so hurt & wounded!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 25, 2017
Corker probably would have won re-election, but Flake clearly was in trouble in Arizona. His retirement gives the state party an opening to find a challenger to Kelli Ward, who would have teed off on Flake if he’d tried to run again. Two House members, Martha McSally and David Schweikart, are considering the opportunity now that the incumbent will vacate the seat, according to the Washington Examiner:
At the moment, multiple Republican lawmakers are looking at jumping into the contest against Rep. Kyrsten Sinema, D-Ariz., her party’s likely nominee. Prominent Republicans viewed as possible candidates with Flake out are Rep. Martha McSally, R-Ariz. and Rep. David Schweikert, R-Ariz.
A source close to McSally confirmed soon after Flake’s jarring Senate floor speech had concluded that “she’s being bombarded by supporters to consider” running. McSally’s team is expected to run the traps on a possible bid.
Schweikert is House Freedom Caucus member and staunch conservative, giving him a potential advantage in the GOP primary. But the telegenic McSally, a military veteran, would be a formidable general election candidate, especially against Sinema.
By retiring, Flake has at least some influence on what comes after him. But he’s clearly not on board with the 25th Amendment lunacy that seems to have infected the media fringe … on CBS.