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THE LEAD WITH JAKE TAPPER

Interview With Arizona Senator Jeff Flake; White House Press Briefing. Aired 4-4:30p ET

Aired October 24, 2017 - 4:00   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.


[16:00:03]

QUESTION: Sarah, are you concerned -- is the White House concerned at all that these conflicts which keep escalating could impact the president's agenda?

(OFF-MIKE) Senator Corker, if the president continues to lash out at him like this, could that prompt him to, you know, do things that would be detrimental to the tax plan?

SARAH HUCKABEE SANDERS, WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY: I would hope that Senator Corker is more focused on getting things done in his final months.

And so we hope that he will be very supportive of the tax cuts and tax reforms that the people in his state have demanded and frankly elected him to go to Congress and help do.

QUESTION: Let me just pick up on that, because the president in two different tweets today had said that Senator Corker was fighting tax cuts. Those are his words, Will now fight tax cuts and is now fighting tax cuts.

But there has been nothing public from Senator Corker that he might be against tax cuts. So what exactly was the president suggesting or referring to there in those tweets? Has Senator Corker privately told the president or the White House that he's against tax cuts?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't know he said he's against them, but he certainly indicated his unwillingness at this point to really step forward and work with the administration on getting things done.

We hope that he will come around and certainly vote for tax cuts as, the people in his state have demanded and requested and pushed for him to do such.

Francesca?

QUESTION: Does the White House think that Flake, McCain and Corker will eventually vote for tax cuss, all three of them? Because you need all three of them.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I certainly think America hopes they do.

Francesca? QUESTION: Last week, I asked you if the president wanted Senator

Corker to resign, and you didn't want to go there.

In light of everything that has happened since, has the White House changed its position on that? And at the very least, does the president think that Senator Corker should step down as head of the Foreign Relations Committee, especially since Senator Corker told CNN today -- and I quote -- that he wants to investigate some of the things that he is purposefully breaking down, he being President Trump.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think that's a decision for Leader McConnell in terms of who has those chairmanships. That's not something for the president to determine.

QUESTION: So, the president doesn't think that he should step down or that he should resign?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I haven't spoken to him specifically about that. But in terms of how the chairmanships are decided, that would be up to Leader McConnell.

John.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah. Two questions.

There are -- there is currently a contested primary for Senator Corker's seat, Congresswoman Blackburn facing former Congressman Fincher, and it's almost inevitable there will be a contested primary in Arizona. Dr. Ward not going to be left to get the nomination.

Will the president take any role in the nomination process, Sarah?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: As I have said many times before from the podium, I'm not going to weigh into any political races and whether or not the president will engage. It's not appropriate for me to do from here. Charlie?

QUESTION: The other thing, Sarah, is that in his penultimate salvo on Twitter, the president said that Senator Corker asked him to be secretary of state, and he refused the request.

That's a pretty serious claim, because no one really has been proven to have asked for a job in modern times like that. Did Senator Corker actually ask the president to be his secretary of state?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: That's my understanding, but I don't know much beyond those initial comments.

Charlie?

QUESTION: Is the president confident that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can hold the Senate caucus together?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Yes, he is, and he thinks that we're going to work together with Republican senators, particularly Leader McConnell, to get tax cuts and tax reform done this year.

QUESTION: Is he upset by senators...

QUESTION: Why does the White House and the president specifically continue to say that senator Bob Corker helped President Obama on the Iran deal, when the facts clearly say that's not true?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Actually, the facts do say that it's true. It was Senator Corker who wrote the (INAUDIBLE) legislation that legitimatized the Iran nuclear deal.

Despite lacking the votes to ratify the flawed Iran deal as a treaty in the Senate, Corker's bill rolled out the red carpet for the Obama administration, gaining congressional approval without the necessary votes. He may not have voted for it, but he certainly helped make it happen.

QUESTION: But he didn't vote for it.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: But he helped to allow it to take place.

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE SANDERS: And as I have said many times before, I wouldn't use "The Washington Post" as my source, Jeff. You should know better than that.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) When you go back and look through this, the White House clearly is not telling the truth on this.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Question...

QUESTION: Why does the president continue to say that he helped President Obama with it?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Because he did.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: ... it's not true. He voted against it, though, Sarah.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: He voted against it, but he allowed it to happen. He put it in motion. He rolled out the red carpet and made it possible for it to move forward.

That is a fact and that is true.

Jeff?

QUESTION: Sarah, what do President Trump's advisers advise him about his use of Twitter?

[16:05:02]

And on a separate unrelated issue, is the president seeking to kill a deal between Boeing -- or Boeing's deal to sell planes to Iran Air? HUCKABEE SANDERS: On the first one, I would say, in regards to

Twitter, as I have stated several times before from here, it's always a benefit for the president to be able to speak directly to the American people without any filter, without any bias.

I think that's a positive thing. I think it's one of the reasons that the president is president is because he often goes directly to the American people, speaks directly to them, and I think that's a plus.

On the second question, I'm not aware of that, any detailed conversations. I couldn't weigh into that right now.

QUESTION: Sarah, on Niger, and I'm not going to ask you to talk about the ongoing investigation, but I do want to say the commander of U.S. forces in Africa told Congress last March that he only had a quarter of the reconnaissance flights needed to do his job, and, in fact, that did impact search-and-rescue missions.

Is the White House concerned that U.S. forces in Africa do not have adequate resources and that that could have contributed to what happened in Niger? And has there been any outreach by the White House to Nigerian officials?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: As always, the safety and security of our military is a top priority.

In terms of specifics, we're going to wait until that investigation is completed. As General Dunford said yesterday, we're going to make sure that we get full and adequate answers for not just the American people, but for the families of those that were lost, and we're going to continue to do that.

The administration fully supports the Department of Defense in that process.

QUESTION: Has there been outreach from the White House to Niger?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not sure. I'd have to check and circle back.

April?

QUESTION: Sarah, back on Niger, an offshoot.

The widow of Sergeant La David Johnson is concerned that there may not be remains in his coffin. What does this White House say, as she is not able to get anything more than dog tags as it relates to trying to put to rest all of this?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: My understanding is that the family can request to see those remains, and that would be a process handled through the Department of Defense and a casualty officer. And I would refer you to the Department of Defense for specifics on that.

QUESTION: And one thing, one last piece on another subject really fast. Beyond personality, beyond the president's personality, beyond Flake,

beyond Corker, beyond McCain, at issue, there is a divide, be it in the nation, be it in your own party.

When is there an effort to unify? Because you have people saying, in their own party, in the president's party, that the president is not helping to pave the way, and the path that the president is taking is wrong.

When is there an effort for this president to start unifying, and not just within the party, but with the country, because there are so many divides?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Every day, there is an effort to unify. I think you see that in the policy initiatives that this president is pushing, tax cuts that affect everyone, particularly the middle class.

I think that's something everyone should be able to rally around, whether you're a Democrat or a Republican. That should be something that brings everybody together. You look at the defeat of ISIS, you look at the growth of the economy, you look at unemployment, these are all things that should bring our country together and certainly things that this president has been focused on and will continue to be focused on moving forward.

QUESTION: Sarah, the president is likening his tax cuts to what Reagan did. But, as we all know, after those 1981 cuts, there were a series of tax increases, including the Social Security payroll tax increase, which affected middle-class Americans.

Today, Social Security's situation, fiscal situation, is far more dire. What does the president have to say about his intentions when it comes to these entitlements once these tax cuts go through?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, the president said that he did not want to impact Social Security and wanted to make sure that we protected that.

The biggest thing he's focused on right now, though, are those tax cuts and making sure that they're permanent tax cuts that really impact and help the middle class, and that's his biggest priority.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

QUESTION: No changes?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Not at this time, no.

QUESTION: The three Republican senators have hit at the same theme, that there is this degradation of civility in American politics, and we also heard that from three past presidents in recent days.

So, does this White House agree with that sentiment, that there is a lack of civility in the conversation happening in this country right now for American politicians? And does this president bear any responsibility for that?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, I think we -- as I have said before, we can all always do better and we're looking at ways every single day, as I just told April, to bring the country together, to focus on policies that really help people, really empower people, and do that for all Americans.

That's this president's -- what he laid out on the campaign and what he's been focused on since he became president.

QUESTION: Thank you, Sarah.

[16:10:01]

I wanted to ask you about the president's tweet in which he called Pastor Robert Jeffress a wonderful man.

Given that there are 70 million Catholic Americans, why would he say that about somebody who is so viciously anti-Catholic?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I'm not aware of Robert Jeffress being anti- Catholic.

I know that he engages with the Catholics in his home state on a regular basis to participate in events like the March for Life. Those are the only actions I have seen him participate in, so I couldn't comment any further on that front.

QUESTION: Sarah, thank you.

One of the aspects for civil discourse is for people under discussion to acknowledge when they have made misstatements. And there is a pattern in this White House and with the president that when they make misstatements, those are not corrected.

For example, the chief of staff came out here at this podium and mischaracterized the speech by a congresswoman given at an FBI building dedication. Why won't the chief of staff or you right now acknowledge that that was a mischaracterization and correct the record?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I don't believe that General Kelly mischaracterized.

He gave his account of what took place. General Kelly and his family have made the ultimate sacrifice for our country. I think he's led with honor and integrity. I think he's doing a great job as chief of staff and I don't think he has anything to correct or apologize for.

QUESTION: Why wouldn't if -- when -- even if President Trump meant to console the widow of Sergeant Johnson, why hasn't he or anyone from the White House apologized for how she took his call? She took his call as insensitive.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Look, the president was making the point that his call was meant to be respectful, sympathetic, and the purpose was to offer condolences on behalf of the nation.

QUESTION: Sarah, two quick questions for you. You talked about the president's big policy initiatives, that that will be how history judges him.

Obviously, so far, right now, he has none that have made it through the legislative process on Capitol Hill. He wants to get taxes done. Bob Corker...

HUCKABEE SANDERS: That's not true. Neil Gorsuch went through a legislative process. I would say that's a pretty big historical moment.

QUESTION: I don't know that that is a policy initiative.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Something that has a lasting legacy. Probably far beyond most any other individual piece of legislation is how the courts can shape and determine a lot of different things, and I think you will see that in Justice Gorsuch.

QUESTION: To finish that first question, then, you talk about -- when you talk about policy initiatives, like health care or, for example, tax reform that have not been completed, at least not yet on Capitol Hill, the lack of support from somebody like Bob Corker might make that a lot more difficult.

Given that, does the president feel like he's winning?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think he feels like America's winning.

I think if you look at some of the progress that's taken place in the first nine months, despite the fact that the Congress has done very little up until this point, the president has gotten rid of nearly 1,000 regulations that have paved the way for massive job creation and job growth in this country.

We're looking at a booming economy. I think those are things that the people actually care about. We're looking at the defeat of ISIS, something that this president has led on and worked with our coalition forces to help do.

He's created better relationships with countries around the globe. He's bolstered the relationship with NATO and had other countries encouraged in the growth of the amount of money that other countries are participating in that.

The historic moment that we saw with the president on his first foreign trip when he was in Saudi Arabia, and he spoke in front of nearly 60 Muslim-majority countries, these are historic moments that he's done without Congress.

Imagine how incredible and how many good things we would be doing if people like Senator Bob Corker got on board and started doing their job, instead of doing so much grandstanding on TV.

Dave. QUESTION: My second question, Sarah.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Sorry.

Dave.

QUESTION: Given those comments, does the president believe there should be a loyalty test for Republican senators? Does he demand...

(CROSSTALK)

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I think their loyalty should be to the American people and to the agenda that those people elected them to carry out.

QUESTION: (OFF-MIKE) say that is where their loyalty lies.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Well, I hope we will see that in their votes.

I'm sorry, Hallie, I have got to move on.

QUESTION: Did the president have any announcement to Chairman Nunes' announcement that he is going to open an investigation into the Obama administration's deal to allow Russian companies to obtain U.S. uranium?

HUCKABEE SANDERS: I haven't spoken with him directly about that, but I certainly think it is a move in the right direction and something that we have spoken about several times here, that if there was any collusion whatsoever during the campaigns at any point or any collusion at any point with another country, that they should look at the Clintons.

And so I think that's the right thing.

(CROSSTALK)

QUESTION: Thanks, Sarah.

HUCKABEE SANDERS: Sorry. Go ahead.

JAKE TAPPER, CNN ANCHOR: We're going to break away from White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders, in the wake of Republican Senator Jeff Flake just announcing he will not seek reelection.

Welcome to THE LEAD. I'm Jake Tapper.

In just a second, Senator Jeff Flake will join me for his first interview since his explosive speech.

Let's just set the table for one second. It's been a shocking and historic day.

[16:15:02]

Two senators from the president's own party are criticizing openly the president's behavior and his honesty in the harshest possible terms.

Last hour, on the Senate floor, the Arizona Republican , Flake, announced he will not seek reelection. And he criticized the Trump presidency, saying -- quote -- "The efficacy of American leadership around the globe has come into question," and he will not be complicit.

We were going to run a bite there. OK.

(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)

SEN. JEFF FLAKE (R), ARIZONA: Sustained incumbency is certainly not the point of seeking office. And there are times when we must risk our careers in favor of our principles. Now is such a time.

(END VIDEO CLIP)

TAPPER: Moments ago, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, called Senator Flake's announcement -- quote -- "probably a good move."

Let's talk about this now in his first TV interview since announcing he will not seek reelection on the floor of the U.S. Senate, Republican Senator Jeff Flake of Arizona.

Senator Flake, thanks very much for joining me.

So, for those people who didn't see your speech earlier, give us the shorter version. Why are you not running for reelection?

FLAKE: Well, it's not that I'm sour on the institution. I love the Senate. This is a wonderful place with wonderful people.

But there is just a very narrow path for a Republican like me in today's Republican Party to get the nomination.

I would have to run a campaign that I couldn't be proud of, frankly, to win reelection. And I chose not to do that.

TAPPER: Well, Senator, explain to voters who might not understand. You're a very conservative Republican.

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: Now, you have shown a willingness to work with Democrats and to be open-minded about things such as President Obama's willingness to establish diplomatic relations with Cuba...

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: ... on immigration reform, but, generally speaking, you're a pretty solid Republican.

What is it about you that you don't think would work in a Republican primary in Arizona? FLAKE: Well, I kind of wrote a book about this, "Conscience of a

Conservative," borrowing from Barry Goldwater's title, just earlier this year.

It's not enough to be conservative anymore. It seems that you have to be angry about it.

And the politics of resentment have come into play. And I just -- I can't go there. We -- if we are going to solve the big problems that we have as a country, we're going to have to work together, Republicans and Democrats.

But, in this environment, that's difficult to do, and it's difficult to win a Republican primary these days if you disagree with the president on anything, or if you countenance his behavior, which I don't think that we ought to normalize.

And so that's what I spoke about today.

TAPPER: And explain -- explain what you mean, because your colleague Senator Bob Corker, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, he had similar comments earlier today.

Explain what you mean when you say you don't think that we should be normalizing the president's behavior. What behavior specifically are you objecting to?

FLAKE: Well, during the campaign, I spoke out first when he launched his campaign and referred to Mexicans crossing the border as rapists, and when he referred to John McCain, that you couldn't call him a war hero because he'd been captured, or referred to the judge who had Mexican ancestry, said that he couldn't judge fairly because of it, and then, obviously, the "Access Zero" -- or "Access Hollywood" tape.

I just ask, on which of those points should I not have spoken out?

But speaking out on those issues certainly got the ire of the president. And it's difficult to move forward in a Republican primary if you have been critical of any of the behavior that's gone on.

And I think, for the long-term health of the Republican Party and our political discourse, we Republicans certainly can't countenance that kind of behavior. We ought to stand up and say, this is not right, this is not us, this is not conservative.

And so I -- that's why I have taken the stand that I have.

TAPPER: Now, not a lot of your fellow Republicans -- there are 52 of you in the Senate -- not a lot of you have taken this position publicly.

There is you, there is Senator Corker, and there is Senator McCain. You could also argue Senator Collins has also offered some criticism. But that's four out of 52.

Are other people saying this privately, and they're just not willing to say it publicly, among your Republican colleagues?

FLAKE: I don't want to ascribe anything to any of my colleagues. Some have spoken out. You're right. Some have not.

But I don't want to fault them for it. I just say, for myself, I can't stay silent, when these kinds of norms of civil behavior are flouted that much.

I mean, you can excuse one thing or two, but, continually, I just think that you have to speak up. And, sometimes, you risk something for it, but, you know, why are we here if we're not going to accomplish something and actually, you know, do something?

[16:20:03]

We're not here just to mark time.

TAPPER: So, let me ask you, Senator, if that's how you feel, why not take that argument to the Republican voters of Arizona and fight for that belief?

You seem to be confident that history is going to judge you well, but that maybe the vote -- the Republicans of Arizona won't.

FLAKE: Yes, I think that that's the case.

I think that this fever will break. I don't know that it will break by next year.

Right now, the vast majority of those who vote in Republican primaries seem to be OK with the president's policies and behavior. I do agree with the president sometimes. I disagree with him other times. That's what I have done with Republican and Democratic presidents.

But now it seems that, you know, if you deviate at all from, you know, the president's positions, or if you fail to condone his behavior, then you're out of step with the party, or at least a segment of the party that votes in Republican primaries.

So, yes, I think history will look back and say, you know what, why didn't we stand up? And I hope that more of us do.

TAPPER: Sarah Sanders just a few minutes ago was asked about what you had to say, and she said, "I think based on previous statements and certainly based on the lack of support that Senator Flake has from the people of Arizona," it's probably a good move that you're not running for reelection.

What's your response?

FLAKE: No response at all.

TAPPER: No response at all?

FLAKE: No. TAPPER: Senator Corker said something earlier today. He said that he

thinks President Trump is responsible for the -- quote -- "debasement of our nation."

He said -- the full quote is "The debasement of our nation is what we will be remembered most for," and that President Trump is obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president.

Do you agree with that? Do you think President Trump is debasing the nation? And those of your colleagues who are not standing up the way you and Senator Corker and McCain and Collins are, do you think that they are also complicit in this?

FLAKE: I can only speak for myself.

And I don't think that we ought to normalize this kind of behavior. The president, you know, tweeting at people, at even foreign leaders, opposition figures, calling our Democratic colleagues losers or clowns, these kinds of things are things that we shouldn't be OK with.

And it happened during the campaign. Some of us spoke out during the campaign. The problem is, is, we keep waiting for a pivot that simply isn't happening.

And I think that we can't wait any longer. At some point, you have to stand up and say, enough. We can't continue with this behavior. And perhaps, if enough of us do, that behavior will stop. But we haven't seen the pivot yet.

TAPPER: Senator Corker seemed to suggest that one of the reasons he was speaking out now was because he has a relationship with President Trump. He supported him last year during the campaign, he was on the short list for vice president or for secretary of state, and that he had been trying to work with the president and steer him in the right direction, and that now he just feels like it's a lost cause.

Why do you think the president's behavior is what it is? Because it seems evident that so much of it is counterproductive for his own agenda.

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: He's alienating you. He's alienating McCain. He's alienating Corker. He's alienating Collins. He's alienating a majority of the American people, not the Republican base, but a majority of the American people.

FLAKE: Right. Right.

I'm trying to understand that myself. I have known Bob Corker for a long time, and he is a man of integrity who stands for what he believes. And I have been glad to see him speak out.

But I'm as puzzled by that as anyone. If we're trying to get an agenda through in the Congress, then you need to work with the Congress, not just with Republicans, but with Democrats as well. And we see fits and starts of that, but nothing sustained, it seems.

And, you know, just the -- you know, the tweets and the behavior that should, I think, be above the president's position just continues.

TAPPER: And you were not a particular supporter of President Trump last year.

FLAKE: No, I wasn't.

TAPPER: But others, such as Corker, were. And there are not just Democrats and independents out there who are not fans of the president, but also some Republicans -- they call themselves never- Trump Republicans -- who are critical of people such as yourself, Senator Corker, et cetera, for arriving at this conclusion today, when, to them, the tweets and the aberrant behavior was evident back in 2015, if not before that.

FLAKE: Well, like I said, I didn't support him in the campaign.

I was troubled initially years ago by his birtherism. I thought that that was an ugly conspiracy theory to foist on our previous president. And that was very unbecoming of anybody to put that forward.

[16:25:03]

So -- you know, and I was very critical years back of that. And I just never warmed to him. I never considered myself a never-Trumper. I hoped that he would come around and make that pivot, but I could just never get there, given the statements that he continued to make and continues to make.

I just -- I don't think that it's the best foot forward for the Republican Party. Resentment is not a governing philosophy. And, at some point we're going to have to actually get beyond it to actually solve the big problems that we have. And we have some sizable problems to fix.

TAPPER: You're going to be around until January 2019?

FLAKE: That's right.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: Do I have my math right?

FLAKE: Yes.

(CROSSTALK)

TAPPER: So, you're still going to be in Washington.

FLAKE: Yes.

TAPPER: So, that's a long time to be in Washington after the speech today and after the statements you're making now.

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: What do you hope to accomplish during that time?

FLAKE: Well, I mean, we are a co-equal branch of government. We pass the legislation, the president signs it. There are things that we can do, you know, with the president's help. It's usually easier. There are things that we can do, you know, with the president's opposition.

One thing that we're going to need to do quickly -- and Tim Kaine and I have been working on it -- a bipartisan AUMF, or authorization for use of military force. That's something that I hope to accomplish in the next few months.

On budget reform, and -- I would like to be part of the big deal or the grand bargain where we do tax reform and entitlement reform at the same time.

There are a lot of things that we can do. And the Congress, I think, needs to assert itself more, particularly with regard to foreign policy. Going since 2001 without a new authorization for use of military force is really an abdication of our authority.

TAPPER: Senator, Sarah Sanders, the White House press secretary, just a few minutes ago said that she thought the language you used in your speech was not befitting of the Senate floor.

Obviously, coming from the Trump White House, that's a curious statement, given all the things that President Trump says...

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: ... that people such as yourself and any sentient human being feel are not necessarily befitting of a president of the United States.

But I do want to give you an opportunity to respond. Do you think that your language at all crossed any lines?

FLAKE: No, I don't.

And I would invite anybody who would like to, to view it, or we will post the speech, the text of it, and have anybody view it that wants to. I think it was totally appropriate for the Senate floor.

TAPPER: What kind of a personal toll does it take for a president of the United States to be singling you out in the way that he has and in the way that he likely will again?

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: I know you're a big boy, and you can take it, but you do have loved ones and you do have people who care about you, and it's not pleasant for the most powerful person in the world to be attacking you individually.

Have you been afraid for your safety? Have you been concerned about your loved ones? Tell -- give us an inside view into what it's like on a more personal, rather than senatorial level.

FLAKE: Well, you know, it has political ramifications, certainly.

It makes it more difficult to succeed in a primary when the president is tweeting against you or is opposed to you. That certainly has political ramifications.

On a personal level, no, it doesn't -- it doesn't matter much to me. My -- I have the love of my wife and five children and a lot of relatives and close friends who know me. And that -- so, the president's tweets or statements don't matter that much personally.

TAPPER: So, I'm -- I have been reading a lot of history lately about the 1950s. And we have -- as they say, history doesn't repeat itself, but it rhymes.

And there was a moment in the 1950s and the late '40s when there was a Republican Senator, Joe McCarthy.

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: And people were afraid of his supporters, and he had a reputation for indecency and for telling lies. And many people in the Republican Party just sat back -- and then the Democratic Party, I should also point out...

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: ... sat back and watched it happen. There were exceptions.

In 1950, Senator Margaret Chase Smith of Maine, a Republican, gave her declaration of conscience on the Senate floor.

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: But, generally speaking, most Republicans were quiet until 1954.

FLAKE: Right.

TAPPER: Murrow didn't even take him on until 1954.

FLAKE: That was...

TAPPER: Do you ever think about that situation when you look...

FLAKE: Yes, I do.

And, in fact, I have just written an op-ed that you will see soon that uses that example.

Mr. Welch, you know, have you no decency? Enough. And that turned the tide.

[16:30:00]

So, yes, I do think that there are -- there are certainly parallels.