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Flake evokes McCarthy era, calls on public 'to stand up' to Trump in new op-ed

Flake evokes McCarthy era, calls on public 'to stand up' to Trump in new op-ed
© Greg Nash

Retiring GOP Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFormer GOP lawmaker: Republican Party 'engulfed in lies and fear' Grassley to vote against Tanden nomination Klain on Manchin's objection to Neera Tanden: He 'doesn't answer to us at the White House' MORE (Ariz.) wrote in a new op-ed for The Washington Post on Tuesday that it's time for Republicans to stand up to President Trump, insisting that he will be "guided only by the dictates of conscience" for his remaining term in the Senate.

The Arizona Republican, who was facing the prospect of a tough reelection in 2018 before announcing on Tuesday his decision not to run, said he's reminded of Joseph Welch, former chief counsel for the Army, who famously stood up to Sen. Joseph McCarthy (R-Wis.) during a congressional hearing. Welch's decision ended his career.

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"As I contemplate the Trump presidency, I cannot help but think of Joseph Welch," Flake wrote. "The moral power of Welch’s words ended McCarthy’s rampage on American values, and effectively his career as well."

Flake said that, thanks to President Trump, America has reached a similar point in its history.

"We face just such a time now. We have again forgotten who we are supposed to be," Flake wrote.

"There is a sickness in our system — and it is contagious."

Flake then went on to list several of Trump's most controversial moments, including his public feud with Gold Star father Khizr Khan and his rhetoric toward North Korea leader Kim Jong Un.

"How many more disgraceful public feuds with Gold Star families can we witness in silence before we ourselves are disgraced?" Flake wrote. "How many more childish insults do we need to see hurled at a hostile foreign power before we acknowledge the senseless danger of it?"

"How many more times will we see moral ambiguity in the face of shocking bigotry and shrug it off?" he added.

In his speech on the Senate floor announcing his decision not to seek reelection, Flake accused Trump of threatening "civility and stability." 

In the op-ed, Flake warned he will be governed only by his conscience for the remainder of his term.

"To that end, and to remove all considerations of what is normally considered to be safe politically, I have decided that my time in the Senate will end when my term ends in early January 2019," he wrote. "For the next 14 months, relieved of the strictures of politics, I will be guided only by the dictates of conscience."