Jeff Flake: impeachment and why he didn’t run for Senate

[SMITH] Do you understand why the Democrats
are trying to look into the possibility of impeachment or do you think that they’re over
their skis? Again, as we sit here today. [FLAKE] I wish that, Speaker Pelosi has held
off for so long and I’ve applauded her for doing so. I hope that we don’t need to impeach this
president. I would like to see the president defeated
next year but I would not rather go that direction. I don’t want to get into a cycle. I’ve lived in too many countries where instead
of saying when you lose an election, “We’re gonna come back “with a better message, get
some better messengers,” that we’ll just disqualify our opponent once they beat us. And that’s what I’m afraid we’re going to
get into that cycle, we may be part way into that cycle now but they’re in a tough position,
and I understand the inclination to say, “We’ve got our role here. “We are a co-equal branch and if we see behavior
“that qualifies for impeachment, it’s our duty “no matter what the politics are, to
go through with it.” [SMITH] Because the alternative, if you allow
the electoral system to be the accountability measure, then you effectively legitimize the
behavior that you consider to be impeachable if you say for the sake of process, or for
the sake of democracy, “We’re just gonna kick this to the voters.” Don’t you? [FLAKE] In some way, I think that that’s still
outweighed by I mean, we are in a divided country right now and what impeachment would
do, I think it would likely play to the president’s benefit assuming the president is impeached
but not convicted. [SMITH] His argument is, Brad Parscale, the
head of his campaign and others around him have said all along basically, “Bring it,
you do this you’re gonna “activate our base,” the country is not for impeachment in fact
there have been polls that have showed that even some Democrats don’t think this is the
answer. [FLAKE] Right, I think his campaign certainly
feels that way and I think it probably would be a boost to him politically. I’m not sure he wants that, and there’ve been
signs that just he doesn’t want that moniker later for history, I guess. [SMITH] First line of his obituary, right? [FLAKE] Yeah, and so I think that that troubles
him but not enough to stop some of the behavior that’s bringing it on. [SMITH] Is he the reason you left? Did you leave because of him or did you leave
because of it? [FLAKE] Well, I would have liked to have stayed
another term. You work hard to get to the Senate. [SMITH] Right, one and out is not normally
done. [FLAKE] Yeah, it’s a wonderful institution
with wonderful people so I wasn’t down on the institution. We have a good system of government here. But for me, what it came down to is I would
have had to condone behavior I can’t condone or adopt positions that I simply can’t adopt. And the bottom line for me was, I knew that
I would have to because every Senate race is a national race now. And in Arizona, the president likes to come
to Arizona. I knew that I would have to stand on a campaign
stage with the president and be okay when people are shouting “Lock her up,” or “Send
them back,” or be okay when the president was ridiculing my colleagues and friends or
people in my state, and I couldn’t do that. I just couldn’t do that. [SMITH] So you chose to leave rather than
to fight. Because that’s one way to interpret it. I’m not suggesting that you fled, but I am
suggesting that an alternative path– [FLAKE] Would have been to go down fighting. [SMITH] To allowing a bully to bully you is
to punch the bully in the nose. Didn’t your dad tell you that? My dad told me that, if a bully comes at you
you punch the bully in the nose, and then the bully moves down the line and bullies
somebody else. [FLAKE] Well for that, I don’t mind standing
up to the president and challenging his positions, but it was never my style and never will be
to engage in the type of behavior. [SMITH] Tit for tat. [FLAKE] Yeah, and that concerns me greatly.

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

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