GOP Sen. Flake: My party is abandoning conservative values in the Trump era

A conservative senator has come out firing against his own party, blaming Republicans for the rise of President Trump and loss of conservative principles in Congress.

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., argued that the Republican party created and must shoulder responsibility for President Trump on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” Tuesday and in a Monday book excerpt published in Politico.

“To carry on in the spring of 2017 as if what was happening was anything approaching normalcy required a determined suspension of critical faculties. And tremendous powers of denial,” Flake wrote his new book. He said he sympathizes with the “impulse to denial,” but demanded his colleagues shed their rose-colored glasses and challenge the “erratic executive branch.”

Flake, an outspoken critic of Trump during the campaign, continued to rail against his party on “Morning Joe,” urging Republicans to stand up for the principles of conservatism.

“The type of policies going forward — protectionism, isolationism — are really not conservative values,” Flake said. “And I’m concerned about where the party goes if we embrace those kind of principles.”

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters after a vote in the Capitol on July 20, 2017. (Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty Images)

Flake also said that a conservative’s demeanor must remain “measured and sober and predictable”— especially when it comes to foreign policy issues.

“Our allies need to know that. We need to embrace our allies and recognize our adversaries,” Flake said. “Chaos is the last thing that our allies and adversaries need to be seeing. And I’m afraid they’re seeing too much of that.”

The White House has been rocked by a series of high-level staff changes, including the recent ousters of chief of staff Reince Priebus and communications director Anthony Scaramucci, as well as the resignation of press secretary Sean Spicer. Trump insisted on Twitter Monday that there was no White House chaos.

During his “Morning Joe” interview, Flake zeroed in on Trump’s sudden firing of FBI director James Comey.

That “should have set off more alarm bells, I think, than it did,” Flake said. He cautioned senators to carefully watch for similar events, such as the termination of the attorney general.

The Arizona lawmaker’s tough talk about Trump could add another twist in the 2018 races, in which Flake could face a competitive reelection. Trump and his staff members reportedly spoke to Flake’s potential primary challengers.

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