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Jeff Flake to Republicans: 'There is power in standing up to the rank corruptions of a demagogue'

Jeff Flake to Republicans: 'There is power in standing up to the rank corruptions of a demagogue'
© Stefani Reynolds

Former GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFive reasons why US faces chronic crisis at border Senate GOP faces retirement brain drain Former GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' MORE (Ariz.) this week urged Republicans in Congress to stand against President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Illinois House passes bill that would mandate Asian-American history lessons in schools Overnight Defense: Administration says 'low to moderate confidence' Russia behind Afghanistan troop bounties | 'Low to medium risk' of Russia invading Ukraine in next few weeks | Intelligence leaders face sharp questions during House worldwide threats he MORE when a joint session meets Wednesday afternoon to certify the results of the 2020 presidential election. 

"Unfortunately, President Trump refuses to accept the reality of his substantial loss, and so becomes determined to create an alternate reality in which he won," Flake wrote this week in an op-ed published in the New York Times. "As he crosses that rubicon, Mr. Trump has taken many in my party with him, all of whom seem to have learned the wrong lessons from this anomalous presidency." 

Since President-elect Joe BidenJoe BidenBiden administration still seizing land near border despite plans to stop building wall: report Olympics, climate on the agenda for Biden meeting with Japanese PM Boehner on Afghanistan: 'It's time to pull out the troops' MORE was projected as the winner of the November election, Trump has claimed widespread voter fraud led to an unfair election against him. More than 100 House Republicans and a dozen GOP senators have said they will contest the election's result, citing similar concerns.

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Neither the president nor lawmakers has provided any substantial evidence of voter fraud. 

"It is hard to comprehend how so many of my fellow Republicans were able — and are still able — to engage in the fantasy that they had not abruptly abandoned the principles they claimed to believe in," Flake wrote. "It is also difficult to understand how this betrayal could be driven by deference to the unprincipled, incoherent and blatantly self-interested politics of Donald Trump, defined as it is by its chaos and boundless dishonesty. The conclusion that I have come to is that they did it for the basest of reasons — sheer survival and rank opportunism." 

Flake said that Republicans can free themselves from what he called the "chaos" of Trump's presidency if they are willing to certify Biden as the winner and carry out their legislative duty as part of a peaceful transition of power.

"My fellow Republicans, as Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger of Georgia has shown us this week, there is power in standing up to the rank corruptions of a demagogue. Mr. Trump can’t hurt you. But he is destroying us," Flake said. 

Over the weekend, a recording of a conversation between Trump and Raffensperger revealed Trump had pressured the secretary of state to "find" enough votes to give him Georgia's presidential electors, weeks after the state's close vote had been recounted and certified.  

Raffensperger, a Republican who says he voted for Trump, has repeatedly pushed back on claims of voter fraud from Trump and his political allies. 

Flake, who said Trump's ascension in the Republican Party "ended" his political career three years ago, called on Vice President Pence as he presides over the joint session of Congress on Wednesday to do "his job" and oversee a peaceful certification process. 
 
"Today, the American people deserve to witness the majesty of a peaceful transfer of power, just as I saw, awe-struck, two decades ago," Flake wrote in reference to former Vice President Al GoreAlbert (Al) Arnold GoreHow Democrats can defy the odds in 2022 The information superhighway must be accessible and affordable for all American Rescue Plan: Ending child poverty — let's make it permanent MORE conceding to President George W. Bush in 2000. "Instead, we find ourselves in this bizarre condition of our own making, two weeks from the inauguration of a new president, with madness unspooling from the White House, grievous damage to our body politic compounding daily."