Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donating unused campaign funds to Arizona nonprofit focused on elections: report Biden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report MORE (R-Ariz.) slammed President Trump's former national security adviser Michael Flynn in an interview aired Thursday, calling him a "conspiracy theorist" unfit to serve in such an office.
Flake told former U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara on the podcast "Stay Tuned with Preet" that he was generally pleased with Trump's national security team, singling out Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default Pentagon chiefs say debt default could risk national security MORE and Secretary of State Rex TillersonRex Wayne TillersonThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by AT&T - Supreme Court lets Texas abortion law stand Trump-era ban on travel to North Korea extended Want to evaluate Donald Trump's judgment? Listen to Donald Trump MORE for praise.
But Flake promptly denounced Flynn's presence on the National Security Council, panning him as a "conspiracy theorist" and rejecting the notion that he would have voted for him had Flynn needed Senate confirmation.
"Michael Flynn didn’t come up for a Senate vote," Flake told Bharara, who was fired from his U.S. attorney position by Trump earlier this year. "I said from the beginning, if that were, I wouldn’t have voted for it, that I thought a conspiracy theorist like that doesn’t belong as head of national security."
Flynn's involvement with Trump — first in his campaign and later in his White House — has been an issue of ongoing controversy. During Trump's White House run, Flynn repeatedly promoted conspiracy-laden websites, particularly those pushing false claims about former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary ClintonHillary Diane Rodham ClintonTrump criticizes Justice for restoring McCabe's benefits Biden sends 'best wishes' to Clinton following hospitalization The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Altria - Jan. 6 panel flexes its muscle MORE.
Flynn was forced to resign from the White House in February, just 24 days into his tenure, after it was revealed that he lied to Vice President Pence about his conversations with then-Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak in the month before Trump took office.
Flake has long spoken critically of Trump, but has stepped up his rhetoric in recent weeks after announcing last month that he would not seek reelection in 2018. In a speech on the Senate floor announcing his decision, Flake delivered a thinly veiled condemnation of Trump and the populist wing of the GOP that carried him to victory in 2016.