White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday that Sen. Jeff Flake had done a disservice to his Arizona constituents by devoting too much time to criticizing President Donald Trump and not enough time legislating.
Sanders stopped short of saying Trump would offer financial support to a candidate mounting a primary challenge against Flake (R-Ariz.), one of the president’s most vocal Republican critics, but also did not outright deny any possibility that the president would do so.
“I’m not sure about any potential funding of a campaign,” Sanders said in response to a question about an excerpt of Flake’s forthcoming book, published by POLITICO Magazine, that was critical of Trump. “But I think that Senator Flake would serve his constituents much better if he was less focused on writing a book and attacking the president and passing legislation.”
Flake, in an excerpt published this week from his upcoming book, “Conscience of a Conservative,” compared Republican efforts in the 2016 election to a “Faustian bargain” and wrote of “the strange specter of an American president’s seeming affection for strongmen and authoritarians.” The excerpt was headlined “My party is in denial about Donald Trump.”
Flake, up for reelection in 2018, has long been critical of the president and was one of a handful of GOP lawmakers who never committed to supporting him. The Trump administration, in turn, has spoken with at least three potential or actual primary challengers to Flake.