Trump blasts Flake for pushing measure to protect Mueller

President TrumpDonald John TrumpCummings says Ivanka Trump not preserving all official communications Property is a fundamental right that is now being threatened 25 states could see severe flooding in coming weeks, scientists say MORE escalated his long-standing feud with Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeTrump's attacks on McCain exacerbate tensions with Senate GOP Schumer to introduce bill naming Senate office building after McCain amid Trump uproar Trump keeps tight grip on GOP MORE (R-Ariz.) on Friday, slamming the retiring senator for trying to force a vote on legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller.

“Jeff Flake(y) doesn’t want to protect the Non-Senate confirmed Special Counsel, he wants to protect his future after being unelectable in Arizona for the 'crime' of doing a terrible job! A weak and ineffective guy!” Trump tweeted Friday.

Flake, on Thursday, said he and Sen. Christopher CoonsChristopher (Chris) Andrew CoonsSenate Dem calls on Trump to apologize for attacks on McCain Sixteen years later, let's finally heed the call of the 9/11 Commission  Senate Dems introduce bill demanding report on Khashoggi killing MORE (D-Del.) would go to the Senate floor next week to try to get a deal on advancing the legislation.

The Senate Judiciary Committee last year passed a bill to protect Mueller — or any other special counsel — in the event he is fired, but that legislation stalled amid opposition from GOP leadership. Any new legislation would likely meet the same fate with the Republicans’ expanded majority in the upper chamber. 

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The president has long criticized Mueller's investigation into possible collusion between the Trump campaign and Russia, denouncing it as a “witch hunt.”

Mueller and the future of his special counsel investigation were thrown into question on Wednesday when Attorney General Jeff SessionsJefferson (Jeff) Beauregard SessionsRosenstein still working at DOJ despite plans to leave in mid-March Juan Williams: Don't rule out impeaching Trump O'Rourke on impeachment: 2020 vote may be best way to 'resolve' Trump MORE announced he was resigning at Trump's request. Soon after Sessions's resignation, Trump announced he would be replaced with acting Attorney General Matthew Whitaker.

Whitaker has been the focus of scrutiny for his history of public comments criticizing the special counsel investigation. The announcement on Wednesday of his appointment to oversee the special counsel's investigation sparked immediate calls from Democrats for Whitaker to recuse himself and for Congress to pass legislation protecting Mueller.

Thousands around the U.S. participated in protests Thursday evening to "Protect Mueller."

Trump’s comments come two days after he took credit for Flake’s retirement.

“I retired him. I’m very proud of it, I did the country a great service," Trump said during a lengthy press conference at the White House.

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.

Flake has since remained a public critic of Trump’s rhetoric.