Trump boasts about having 'retired' Flake: 'I did the country a great service'

Trump boasts about having 'retired' Flake: 'I did the country a great service'
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President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE on Wednesday boasted that he "retired" Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeMcSally ties Democratic rival Kelly to Sanders in new ad McSally launches 2020 campaign Sinema will vote to convict Trump MORE (Ariz.), a top GOP critic of the president who is leaving the Senate after this year.

“In Jeff Flake’s case it’s me, pure and simple. I retired him. I’m very proud of it, I did the country a great service," Trump said during a sprawling press conference at the White House a day after the midterm elections.

"He is retired. I’d like to call it another word, but we’re going to treat him with great respect,” Trump added.

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Flake, who announced in October 2017 that he would retire after this year, has acknowledged that his vocal criticism of the president’s rhetoric would likely make winning a GOP primary to seek reelection untenable.

“The bottom line is if I were to run a campaign that I could be proud of and where I didn’t have to cozy up to the president and his positions or his behavior, I could not win in a Republican primary, that’s the bottom line," Flake said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” after announcing his retirement. 

"It’s not that you have to just be with the president on policy, you can’t question his behavior and still be a Republican in good standing apparently in a Republican primary."

Flake has remained a vocal critic of the president, arguing in an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, "There is only one real way forward, of course. But it has to start with Republicans believing in something greater than President Trump again."

Trump and Flake’s comments come a day after Republicans expanded their majority in the Senate, largely due to Trump-aligned Republican candidates who fought Democrats in red or purple states.

Meanwhile, the race to replace Flake in Arizona remained too close to call on Wednesday, with Arizona Reps. Martha McSallyMartha Elizabeth McSallyOvernight Health Care: Officials confirm 34 total coronavirus cases in US | ObamaCare favorability hits highest level in poll | McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign McSally unveils bill to lower drug prices amid tough campaign Trump seeks to boost vulnerable GOP senator with Colorado rally MORE (R) and Kyrsten Sinema (D) separated by 1 percentage point with nearly all precincts reporting.

Trump at the press conference Wednesday also ripped defeated Republican House members who he said had not sufficiently embraced him.

“You had some that decided to, let’s stay away, let’s stay away. They did very poorly,” Trump said at a press conference at the White House. “I’m not sure that I should be happy or sad, but I feel just fine about it.” 

Trump specifically mentioned GOP Reps. Carlos CurbeloCarlos Luis CurbeloRepublicans can't exploit the left's climate extremism without a better idea Progressive Latino group launches first incumbent protection campaign The Memo: Bad polls for Trump shake GOP MORE (Fla.) and Mike CoffmanMichael (Mike) Howard CoffmanBottom Line Koch political arm endorses Colorado Sen. Gardner 20 years after Columbine, Dems bullish on gun reform MORE (Colo.), both of whom lost in contested congressional races on Tuesday evening. 

Trump also called out by name defeated GOP Reps. Mia LoveLudmya (Mia) LoveThe biggest political upsets of the decade Former GOP lawmaker: Trump's tweets have to stop Congressional Women's Softball team releases roster MORE (Utah), Barbara ComstockBarbara Jean ComstockLive coverage: House holds third day of public impeachment hearings Gun debate raises stakes in battle for Virginia legislature Progressives face steep odds in ousting incumbent Democrats MORE (Va.), Peter Roskam Peter James RoskamHouse votes to temporarily repeal Trump SALT deduction cap Feehery: How Republicans can win back the suburbs Ex-GOP Rep. Roskam joins lobbying firm MORE (Ill.), Erik PaulsenErik Philip PaulsenPass USMCA Coalition drops stance on passing USMCA Two swing-district Democrats raise impeachment calls after whistleblower reports Hopes dim for passage of Trump trade deal MORE (Minn.) and John FasoJohn James FasoThe most expensive congressional races of the last decade The 31 Trump districts that will determine the next House majority GOP House super PAC targets two freshman Dems with new ads MORE (N.Y.), as well as Bob Hugin, a Republican Senate candidate who challenged Sen. Bob MenendezRobert (Bob) MenendezMenendez calls for 'Marie Yovanovitch bill' to protect foreign service employees Senators condemn UN 'blacklisting' of US companies in Israeli settlements Media's selective outrage exposed in McSally-Raju kerfuffle MORE (D) in New Jersey but lost.

Democrats regained control of the House on Tuesday, mostly by running up the score in suburban districts where voters have become disillusioned with the president’s tone.