Nets Ask Flake if Trump Should Be ‘Removed From Office,’ Avoid Senator’s Unpopularity

After all three network morning shows provided Tennessee Senator Bob Corker with a platform to bash President Trump on Tuesday, on Wednesday, the broadcasts eagerly brought on Arizona Senator Jeff Flake to do the same. During the series of softball interviews, each host asked a version of the same question, should the President be “removed from office”? Meanwhile, only CBS bothered to ask about the lawmaker’s unpopularity in his own state.  

CBS This Morning co-host Norah O’Donnell was the most direct as she pressed Flake: “What’s remarkable about listening to your speech yesterday and reading your op/ed is that you’re not just expressing your opinion, you seem to be trying to ignite a movement....If he is dangerous to democracy, as you say, should he be removed from office?”

 

 

Moments later, after Flake denied that he wanted Trump impeached, fellow co-host Charlie Rose had already convicted the President and the GOP: “...you seem to be saying to your fellow Republicans, ‘If you do not speak out now, this is so serious, that you are complicit in the actions of the President’....So if you don’t speak out, you’re complicit in the crime, or however you define what the President is doing?”
                
To Rose’s credit, he was the only network host to ask Flake about his tenuous political position in Arizona: “...some skeptics will say it was easy to do this when you’re facing a very, very uphill campaign and likely to lose, number one, and you should speak to that.” However, Flake never addressed the issue and Rose didn’t follow up.

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On NBC’s Today, co-host Matt Lauer suggested that Flake’s attacks on Trump brought the President’s ability to lead into question: “Senator, is there a difference in your mind, between a president who – and these are your words – ‘undermines our democratic ideals and has a flagrant disregard for the truth and decency,’ and a president who is unfit to hold the office?”

Later in that same segment, Lauer urged Flake to admit that the nation would have been better off if Hillary Clinton had won the 2016 election.

Finally, on ABC’s Good Morning America, co-host George Stephanopoulos argued for some kind of action to be taken against the President by Congress: “You say, ‘It’s time for our complicity and accommodation of the unacceptable to end’...Are words enough, though, Senator? What should you and your colleagues be doing?”

Near the end of exchange, Stephanopoulos encouraged Flake to run against Trump: “And finally, how about the future of your fight against President Trump. Where does it go next? Are you open to challenging him in 2020?” After Flake dodged the question, Stephanopoulos kept hope alive: “But not ruling out a challenge in 2020?” The Senator replied: “You know, that’s a long time away. And we’ll deal with that when it comes to it.” After the interview, the anchor quipped: “It’s not that long away.”

The biased segments across all three networks were brought to viewers by Microsoft, Infiniti, and Ford.

Here are excerpts of the October 25 interviews:

CBS This Morning
7:06 AM [7:06:16 - 7:11:06, 4 min 50 sec]

NORAH O’DONNELL: Senator Flake started this morning’s op-ed by writing, quote, “As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch.” Welch was an Army lawyer who famously called out Senator Joseph McCarthy and started his downfall in 1954.

JOSEPH WELCH: Until this moment, Senator, I think I never really gauged you cruelty, or your recklessness. You’ve done enough. Have you no sense of decency, sir?

O’DONNELL: Arizona Senator Jeff Flake joins us now from Capitol Hill. Senator, good morning.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE [R-AZ]: Good morning.

O’DONNELL: That was 1954. You write this morning, “We face just such a time now.” Why are you comparing President Trump to Senator Joseph McCarthy?

(...)

O’DONNELL: What’s remarkable about listening to your speech yesterday and reading your op/ed is that you’re not just expressing your opinion, you seem to be trying to ignite a movement. You write, “It is time to take a stand against Trump.” If he is dangerous to democracy, as you say, should he be removed from office?

(...)

GAYLE KING: Senator, how long have you been thinking about this, and was there a final straw for you?

(...)

CHARLIE ROSE: Senator, two points. One, some skeptics will say it was easy to do this when you’re facing a very, very uphill campaign and likely to lose, number one, and you should speak to that. Secondly, you seem to be saying to your fellow Republicans, “If you do not speak out now, this is so serious, that you are complicit in the actions of the President.”

(...)

ROSE: So if you don’t speak out, you’re complicit in the crime, or however you define what the President is doing?

(...)


Today
7:06 AM ET

SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: And that brings us to Senator Jeff Flake, who joins us live now. Senator, good morning to you.

MATT LAUER: Good morning.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE [R-AZ]: Thanks for having me on.

GUTHRIE: One of the parts of your speech that really caught my eye, Senator, is when you talked about your fellow senators, your colleagues in the Senate, and you said – and I’m paraphrasing here – “If you’re waiting for President Trump to turn a corner and grow up and become more responsible and start to get things done, your wait will last forever. That’s not going to happen.” My question to you is, when you stepped off the Senate floor, what did you hear from your colleagues? Did they whisper in your ear and say, “I feel that way, too”? Or did they say, “Listen, I disagree with you and I can’t stand with you”?

(...)

MATT LAUER: Senator, is there a difference in your mind, between a president who – and these are your words – “undermines our democratic ideals and has a flagrant disregard for the truth and decency,” and a president who is unfit to hold the office?

(...)

LAUER: Does it bother you that this – your moment, your sacrifice, if you will, is being seen as a victory by the White House? Who basically said good riddance, and Steve Bannon came out and said, “Another day, another scalp.” In essence, they’re saying, by quitting, they win and you lose.

(...)

GUTHRIE: But Senator, I have to say. I mean, there will be plenty of people watching right now and saying, “Amen, I agree with you. And there will be a significant number of people that will think, “That’s just more talk from an establishment senator.” As Matt pointed out, they might say “good riddance.” The audience you need to reach are the people that believe President Trump. They believe in him, they believe he’s a change agent. If you have 30 seconds to make that pitch, what would you say to them to try to persuade?

(...)

 

Good Morning America
7:04 AM ET

GEORGE STEPHANOPOULOS: Now let’s bring in the Senator himself, Jeff Flake joins us from the Capitol this morning. Senator Flake, thank you for joining us.

SEN. JEFF FLAKE [R-AZ]: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Well, you’ve heard the White House. Sarah Sanders calls your speech “petty.” Steve Bannon, an ally of the President, “Another day, another scalp.” And the AP is reporting that the President is privately taking credit for forcing you and Bob Corker out of the Senate. Have you given Trump a victory by retiring?

(...)

STEPHANOPOULOS: So what happens next year? You say, “It’s time for our complicity and accommodation of the unacceptable to end.”

FLAKE: Right.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Bob Corker aside, are your Republican colleagues now in the Senate being complicit by staying silent?

(...)

STEPHANOPOULOS: Are words enough, though, Senator? What should you and your colleagues be doing?

(...)            

STEPHANOPOULOS: And finally, how about the future of your fight against President Trump. Where does it go next? Are you open to challenging him in 2020?  

(...)

STEPHANOPOULOS: But not ruling out a challenge in 2020?

FLAKE: You know, that’s a long time away. And we’ll deal with that when it comes to it.

STEPHANOPOULOS: Senator Flake, thanks for your time this morning.

FLAKE: Thank you.

STEPHANOPOULOS: It’s not that long away.


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