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Jeff Flake: Trump has 'debased' the presidency

Jeff Flake: Trump has 'debased' the presidency
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeOn The Money: Treasury official charged with leaking info on ex-Trump advisers | Trump to seek 5 percent budget cut from Cabinet members | Mnuchin to decide by Thursday on attending Saudi conference Mnuchin to decide by Thursday whether to attend Saudi conference GOP senator: Not 'appropriate' for Mnuchin to go to Saudi conference MORE (R-Ariz.) took aim at President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump renews attacks against Tester over VA nominee on eve of Montana rally Trump submits 2017 federal income tax returns Corker: Trump administration 'clamped down' on Saudi intel, canceled briefing MORE on Wednesday, saying the president has "debased" the office with his "bottomless appetite for destruction and degradation."

“Our presidency has been debased by a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division, and only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works" Flake said in a commencement address to Harvard Law School graduates, according to prewritten remarks.

“Our Article I branch of government, the Congress (that's me), is utterly supine in the face of the moral vandalism that flows from the White House daily,” Flake continued.

The Republican senator went on to say that the country's strongest enemies could not hurt the U.S. more than "we are hurting ourselves," concluding that "we may have hit bottom."

Flake also criticized Trump for his continuing attacks on the media and what he views to be the president’s willingness to indulge and encourage “our very worst impulses.”

“When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that does not suit him ‘fake news,’ it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press,” Flake said.

Flake said his criticism of the president makes him no less Republican; instead, he called it an act of patriotic loyalty. The senator, who has gone after Trump in a number of recent speeches, has voted in line with Trump 84 percent of the time, according to FiveThirtyEight — one of the lowest percentages for Senate Republicans.

“My sounding this alarm against the government that was elected, under the Republican banner, and that calls itself conservative, makes me no less Republican or conservative,” Flake said. “And opposing the president and much of what he stands for is not an act of apostasy. It is, rather, an act of fidelity.”

Flake announced last year that he would retire in January after finishing one term in the Senate.