Flake: I won't oppose Trump's Supreme Court pick over tariffs

Flake: I won't oppose Trump's Supreme Court pick over tariffs
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said he won’t withhold support for President TrumpDonald John TrumpSunday shows preview: Trump sells U.N. reorganizing and Kavanaugh allegations dominate Ex-Trump staffer out at CNN amid “false and defamatory accusations” Democrats opposed to Pelosi lack challenger to topple her MORE’s Supreme Court nominee as a bargaining chip to secure action on tariffs. 

"There are lots of folks out there who assume because I've not been in line with lots of the president's policies, and certainly haven't condoned his behavior, that I should oppose everything, every one of the president's nominees or whatever. I've never taken that position," Flake told The Arizona Republic in an interview published Thursday. 

The senator's remarks arrive a week after he was said to be considering whether to block votes on Trump’s appellate court nominations in efforts to secure action on tariffs and travel restrictions to Cuba.

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"My goal here is not to block judges,” the retiring Republican lawmaker said. “My goal is to get a vote on tariffs, and I have all the leverage I need with circuit court nominees.” 

Flaked added that he "certainly wasn't anticipating a Supreme Court vacancy, but it's unaffected." 

Flake, who is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, where Republicans lawmakers hold a one-seat advantage over their Democratic counterparts, said he also hasn’t changed the qualifications he wants to see in a nominee. 

"This is important in its own right. I want someone who will interpret the Constitution and not legislate from the bench; it's what I've always said in terms of how I would view any nominee," Flake said. "It's what I did with [Supreme Court Justice Neil] Gorsuch and I thought he passed the test. It's what I'll do with this one." 

The newspaper noted that Flake has slowed the pace for the Republican-held Senate’s judicial confirmations this year in efforts to spur the Senate into voting on an amendment that would significantly limit Trump’s power to impose new taxes on foreign goods.

"My goal has been to force a vote on tariffs," Flake said. "I just think it's unconscionable for Congress not to speak on this, so a couple of weeks ago I let the chairman on the Judiciary Committee know that I would vote 'No' on circuit court nominees until I was assured of some kind of vote coming up. ... At the same time, I've voted 'Yes' on district court nominees, and those have passed through. This was only with circuit court nominees."