Flake has ‘credibility problem,’ says former state Democratic lawmaker

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) has a “credibility problem” with his calls to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerLewandowski says Mueller report was 'very clear' in proving 'there was no obstruction,' despite having 'never' read it Fox's Cavuto roasts Trump over criticism of network Mueller report fades from political conversation MORE, according to former Ohio state Sen. Capri Cafaro (D).

“I would have more faith in the guy if he actually voted the way he spoke,” Cafaro told Hill.TV co-hosts Krystal Ball and Saagar Enjeti on Thursday in response to a question about Flake’s demands over a bill designed to protect Mueller.

Flake, who's retiring in early January, said Wednesday that he will oppose President TrumpDonald John TrumpJulián Castro: It's time for House Democrats to 'do something' about Trump Warren: Congress is 'complicit' with Trump 'by failing to act' Sanders to join teachers, auto workers striking in Midwest MORE’s judicial nominees until the Senate votes on the Mueller bill. His threat will block the Senate Judiciary Committee from approving judicial nominations and sending them to the full Senate without help from Democrats.

Republicans hold an 11-10 majority on the panel and many of the most controversial nominees are advanced along party lines, meaning they would need either Flake's vote or a Democratic senator to flip.

The bipartisan Mueller bill has been in limbo ever since it the Senate Judiciary Committee advanced the measure in April.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellOvernight Energy: California, 23 other states sue Trump over vehicle emissions rule | Climate strike protests hit cities across globe | Interior watchdog expands scope of FOIA investigation | Dems accuse officials of burying climate reports Hillicon Valley: Lawmakers say Zuckerberg to 'cooperate' on antitrust probes | Dems see victory after McConnell backs election security funds | Twitter takes down fake pro-Saudi accounts Liberal super PAC launches browser extension replacing 'Mitch McConnell' with 'Moscow Mitch' MORE (R-Ky.) blocked Flake's request to force a vote on the bill. McConnell argued that the special counsel is not in danger of being fired, even though President Trump has repeatedly attacked the Mueller's Russia probe, calling it a "witch hunt."

Trump on Thursday called the investigation “a witch hunt like no other in American history.”

Cafaro said that while it's helpful that Flake is putting pressure on his fellow Senate Republicans, he is grandstanding with threats that are just an act.

“I think it gives him comfort because there’s been controversy surrounding will-they-or-won’t-they kill the Mueller investigation,” she said. "But I think with Jeff Flake, he has a credibility problem because he talks a big game and then he doesn’t vote the way that he talks."

Flake has served in the Senate since 2013. His retirement has sparked speculation of a potential 2020 challenge against Trump.

Cafaro said Flake and Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), another potential 2020 contender, don't stand a chance with Republican voters.

“He’ll get smoked – so will [John] Kasich – just simply because I think the primary electorate doesn’t have the appetite,” she told Hill.TV.

— Tess Bonn