Flake tells GOP: Trump 'does not deserve reelection'

Former Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeLindsey Graham basks in the impeachment spotlight Kelly, McSally virtually tied in Arizona Senate race: poll The Hill's 12:30 Report — Presented by Nareit — White House cheers Republicans for storming impeachment hearing MORE (R-Ariz.) is urging Republican lawmakers to not support President TrumpDonald John TrumpLawmakers release defense bill with parental leave-for-Space-Force deal House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday Houston police chief excoriates McConnell, Cornyn and Cruz on gun violence MORE's 2020 reelection campaign amid an impeachment inquiry fueled by Trump's actions toward Ukraine.

Flake, in a Washington Post op-ed, warned that regardless of the outcome of the impeachment fight, Republicans will have to decide whether, "given what we now know about the president’s actions and behavior, to support his reelection."

"Obviously, the answer is no," Flake added.
 
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Flake, a vocal Trump critic who retired from the Senate in January, acknowledged that opposing Trump's 2020 bid would likely have political consequences. Flake, had he decided to run for reelection in 2018, was expected to have faced a tough primary challenge from the right. 

"My fellow Republicans, it is time to risk your careers in favor of your principles. Whether you believe the president deserves impeachment, you know he does not deserve reelection," Flake added in the Post op-ed. 

"Trust me when I say that you can go elsewhere for a job. But you cannot go elsewhere for a soul," Flake continued. 
 
A few GOP senators have held back from endorsing Trump's reelection bid. Sen. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsThe Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment Senate braces for brawl on Trump impeachment rules Here are the Senate Republicans who could vote to convict Trump MORE (R-Maine), who is up for reelection, said earlier this year that she was "not prepared at this point to make that decision." Sen Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyAthlete Peter Frates dies of ALS after becoming face of Ice Bucket Challenge Ex-Rep. Scott Taylor to seek old Virginia seat The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by AdvaMed - A crucial week on impeachment MORE (R-Utah) told CNN earlier this month that he was "not planning on endorsing in the presidential race." 
 
But Flake's op-ed comes amid a growing fight over impeachment in the wake of a whistleblower complaint tied to Trump's actions toward Ukraine. 
 
The White House also released a partial transcript of Trump's call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. In the call, according to the document, Trump asked Zelensky to work with his personal attorney, Rudy GiulianiRudy GiulianiTempers flare at tense Judiciary hearing on impeachment Giuliani says he hopes to present findings of Ukraine trip to GOP this week Trump, Pelosi on shortlist for Time Person of the Year MORE, and expressed hope that he “can look into” former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenGabbard says she won't participate in next debate even if she qualifies House Democrats expected to unveil articles of impeachment Tuesday FBI head rejects claims of Ukrainian 2016 interference MORE.
 
Flake, in the Monday op-ed, said impeachment "now seems inevitable" and that "with what we now know, the president’s actions warrant impeachment."
 
"Although Article II, Section 4 is clear about remedies for abuse of office, I have grave reservations about impeachment. I fear that, given the profound division in the country, an impeachment proceeding at such a toxic moment might actually benefit a president who thrives on chaos. Disunion is the oxygen of this presidency," Flake added.
 
Congressional Republicans have largely rallied behind Trump in the wake of House Democrats' decision to start a formal impeachment inquiry. But there are some signs of cracks days into the scandal, with several Republicans signaling they have concerns about Trump's tactics. 
 
Flake has repeatedly tried to push Republicans to take a firmer stance in pushing back on Trump's actions. The stance made him a frequent target for Trump, whom he clashed with frequently over issues like immigration and former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) Swan MuellerTrump says he'll release financial records before election, knocks Dems' efforts House impeachment hearings: The witch hunt continues Speier says impeachment inquiry shows 'very strong case of bribery' by Trump MORE

"At this point, the president’s conduct in office should not surprise us. But truly devastating has been our tolerance of that conduct. Our embrace of it," Flake said. "We have failed each other, and we have failed ourselves. Let us stop failing now, while there is still time."