Former Republican Senator Jeff Flake said that with what the American public currently knows about President Donald Trump’s conduct in office, impeachment proceedings against him are warranted.
Flake wrote about Trump’s latest controversy with the Ukraine whistleblower, his feelings about impeachment and the “soul” of the Republican Party in an op-ed for The Washington Post on Monday.
“Compelling arguments will be made on both sides of the impeachment question. With what we now know, the president’s actions warrant impeachment,” the former lawmaker wrote. He added that he had “grave reservations” about whether removing Trump is the right decision given the “profound division in the country.”
The House of Representatives officially moved forward with an impeachment inquiry last week after reports that Trump tried to pressure Ukrainian officials to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son Hunter.
A whistleblower complaint filed with the intelligence community’s inspector general detailed the questionable communication between Trump and Ukraine president Volodymyr Zelensky in July, during which the two leaders discussed looking into the Bidens. It’s also been reported that Trump withheld military aid from Ukraine in order to coerce them into the probe, though Trump denies the allegation.
The whistleblower complaint, which was redacted but made public by the House Intelligence Committee last week, detailed concerns that Trump was “using the power of his office to solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 U.S. election.”
Flake retired from Congress in late 2018, citing what he called the “undermining of our democratic norms.”
In his editorial for the Post, Flake said he would have preferred to serve another term as Arizona’s senator but “not at the cost of supporting this man.” He also encouraged Senate Republicans not to support Trump’s 2020 White House bid.
“At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us. But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct. Our embrace of it,” Flake wrote. “From the ordeal of this presidency, perhaps the most horrible—and lasting—effect on our democracy will be that at some point we simply stopped being shocked.”
Few Republicans in Congress have spoken out against Trump during the Ukraine whistleblower debacle, and none have publicly supported impeachment proceedings. Representative Justin Amash, who used to be a Republican but became an Independent this year, is the only non-Democrat who has backed impeachment.
Last week, Republican Representative Mark Amodei used language during a press call that suggested he supported the Democrats’ investigation into Trump. He told reporters that he was “a big fan of oversight, so let’s let the committees get to work and see where it goes.”
The conversation prompted many outlets to report that Amodei was the first GOP congressman to support impeachment, but Amodei’s office pushed back hard against that claim. His team released a statement denying that he was advocating for the impeachment inquiry and said he now had “a full appreciation of how the president feels” in an apparent swipe at the media for covering his statements.
But Flake urged Republicans to put “America first” instead of supporting a president just to save themselves when it comes time for their own re-election bids.
“Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul,” Flake wrote.
Source: Alexandra Hutzler, www.newsweek.com/jeff-flake-says-trump-impeachment-warranted-1462081