Flake says he plans to stay in politics

Flake says he plans to stay in politics
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake urges Republicans to condemn 'vile and offensive' Trump tweets Flake responds to Trump, Jimmy Carter barbs: 'We need to stop trying to disqualify each other' Jeff Flake responds to Trump's 'greener pastures' dig on former GOP lawmakers MORE (R-Ariz.) on Tuesday vowed to stay involved in politics after he leaves the Senate in January, but that he doesn't yet know "at what level or in what way."

"I’m not leaving the Senate because I’m not tied to this institution or ‘pox on all your houses,'" Flake said at The Atlantic Festival in Washington, D.C. "It’s a wonderful institution with wonderful people." 

ADVERTISEMENT

"I simply couldn’t run the kind of campaign that I felt I needed to run in this environment and succeed," he said. "That’s the bottom line. But I will stay involved, certainly. I don’t know at what level or in what way but this is important."

Flake announced last year that he would not run for reelection amid an ongoing clash with President TrumpDonald John TrumpChelsea Clinton announces birth of third child Ukrainian officials and Giuliani are sharing back-channel campaign information: report Trump attacks 'the Squad' as 'racist group of troublemakers' MORE. The Arizona senator rankled members of the GOP with his ongoing attacks on the president, whom he has accused of leading the Republican Party astray.

Flake played a pivotal role as a swing vote in the controversy surrounding Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh's nomination, which has been roiled by multiple allegations of sexual assault.

Last week, Flake forced Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellThe Hill's Morning Report — Mueller Time: Dems, GOP ready questions for high-stakes testimony Election security to take back seat at Mueller hearing McConnell challenger faces tougher path after rocky launch MORE's (R-Ky.) hand by announcing he would vote "no" on Kavanaugh unless the FBI investigated the allegations of sexual misconduct leveled against the high court pick. 

The White House subsequently opened up a one-week FBI investigation, which is ongoing. Flake told CNN on Tuesday that his vote will depend on the results of that inquiry.

Flake during CBS's "60 Minutes" over the weekend said that he would not have called for the FBI investigation if he were running for reelection

"There’s no value to reaching across the aisle," he said during the "60 Minutes" interview. "There’s no currency for that anymore. There’s no incentive."

Flake has not ruled out the possibility of launching a challenge to Trump during the 2020 presidential election. He has said he would run as a Republican rather than a third-party candidate because he "can't imagine doing anything else."

The Arizona senator will visit New Hampshire next month, his second visit to the state this year. New Hampshire is a traditional destination for possible presidential candidates, as it is the nation's first presidential primary state and second contest after the Iowa caucuses.