Flake: 'I couldn't sleep at night’ having to support Trump

Flake: 'I couldn't sleep at night’ having to support Trump
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeDHS secretary defends Trump administration's migrant policies White House faces growing outcry over migrant family policies GOP senators push for clarification on migrant family separations MORE (R-Ariz.) said he "couldn't sleep at night" having to support or condone the actions and behavior of President Trump, and that he was confident the Republican Party would eventually distance itself from the president's brand of politics.

“I couldn’t sleep at night having to embrace the president or condoning his behavior or being OK with some of his positions,” Flake told The Washington Post in an interview published Saturday. “I just couldn’t do it — it was never in the cards.”

Flake made headlines this week when he announced in a lengthy speech on the Senate floor that he would not seek reelection in 2018, because he could no longer stand behind Trump and that he felt his brand of conservatism was no longer in step with the mainstream GOP.

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Flake has long been one of Trump's most ardent Republican critics, refusing to endorse him during his 2016 election bid and writing in a book published this summer that he felt the GOP had caved to the real estate mogul's populist politics.

That sentiment within the Republican Party, he said, would not last forever. But he told the Post that he did not think that the direction of the party would shift again by next year, when he was set to face a tough reelection bid.

“I knew that when I spoke out at that time that I was out of step with a lot of the Republican primary voters, but I felt that I had to do it,” Flake said. “I had hoped — and I still hope and I’m confident at some point — that the fever will break. But it just became more and more apparent that it certainly wasn’t going to break by next year.”

Polling data showed Flake likely losing the GOP primary next year, in which he faced a challenge from Kelli Ward, a former Arizona state senator and an ally of Trump, who has already received the endorsement of former White House chief strategist and Breitbart News chief Stephen Bannon.