GOP senator: I wish Republicans had stood up to birtherism

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump yuks it up to deflect Senate critics Overnight Defense: Senate confirms Haspel as CIA chief | Trump offers Kim 'protections' if he gives up nukes | Dem amendments target Trump military parade Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers target Chinese tech giants | Dems move to save top cyber post | Trump gets a new CIA chief | Ryan delays election security briefing | Twitter CEO meets lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.) in an interview broadcast Sunday said he wished the Republican Party had stood up to birtherism.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” host Chuck Todd discussed Flake’s new book about conservatism and asked the Arizona senator if the GOP is afraid to put country over party.

“Well, I do think that we've seen more people ready to stand up. And I wish that we, as a party, would have stood up, for example, when the birtherism thing was going along. A lot of people did stand up but not enough,” Flake told Todd.

Flake said the birther movement, a conspiracy theory that claimed former President Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaThe true commander in tweet Meghan Markle's pre-royal 'finishing lessons' and an etiquette of equality Hannity on Acosta claim he was tough on Obama: 'Only thing missing were the pom-poms' MORE was not born in the United States, “was particularly ugly.”

President Trump had promoted the theory for years, before rejecting it during the 2016 presidential campaign.

"President Barack Obama was born in the United States," Trump said at the end of a campaign event last September. "Period."

Flake on Sunday also denounced the “lock her up” chants about Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonStopping Robert Mueller to protect us all Hillary Clinton hits Trump, pulls out Russian hat during Yale speech Giuliani: Mueller plans to wrap up Trump obstruction probe by Sept. 1 MORE, which could be heard at Trump rallies during the 2016 election

The Arizona lawmaker, who has not shied away from criticizing Trump and his own party, has been completing a media blitz promoting his new book, “Conscience of a Conservative.” He has argued that the GOP is in denial about the first few months of Trump’s presidency.