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

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.) has a “credibility problem” with his calls to protect special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerSpeier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump Gowdy: I '100 percent' still believe public congressional hearings are 'a circus' Comey: Mueller 'didn't succeed in his mission because there was inadequate transparency' 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 TrumpGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy Official testifies that Bolton had 'one-on-one meeting' with Trump over Ukraine aid Louisiana governor wins re-election 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 McConnellGOP divided over impeachment trial strategy On The Money: Trump asks Supreme Court to block Dem subpoena for financial records | Kudlow 'very optimistic' for new NAFTA deal | House passes Ex-Im Bank bill opposed by Trump, McConnell Top House Democrats ask for review of DHS appointments 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