Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona described President Donald Trump's behavior as unprecedented when asked if he would have preferred former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to have won the 2016 election. Flake publicly criticized Trump's personal conduct when he announced his retirement from the Senate.
On Oct. 25, Flake was asked during an interview with NBC's "Today" if he, as a Republican, would have preferred a Clinton presidency over the current Trump administration.
"I can tell you no president, Democrat or Republican, in recent memory, has exhibited the kind of behavior that this president has," Flake responded. "I would love to have a Republican president, but not at any cost."
The Arizona senator urged his fellow GOP lawmakers to condemn Trump before "this kind of behavior and these kind of politics becomes normalized ... I'm not happy with the direction we're going."
On Oct. 24, Flake announced during a speech that he would retire from the Senate after his current term is completed in 2018. The outgoing senator criticized Trump's leadership during his remarks.
"We must never meekly accept the daily sundering of our country," Flake said on the Senate floor, reports The New York Times. "The personal attacks, the threats against principles, freedoms and institution, the flagrant disregard for truth and decency. The reckless provocations ... None of these appalling features of our current politics should ever be regarded as normal."
That same day, outgoing GOP Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee also blasted Trump's behavior.
"He's obviously not going to rise to the occasion as president ... I think the debasement of our nation will be what he'll be remembered most for, and that's regretful," Corker told CNN.
On Oct. 25, Trump took to Twitter to assert that both Corker and Flake chose to retire in 2018 because they would not win reelection.
"The meeting with Republican Senators yesterday, outside of Flake and Corker, was a love fest with standing ovations and great ideas for USA!" Trump added in a tweet.
Corker disputed the president's remarks, asserting to reporters that if he had decided to mount a reelection campaign he would be in a "dominant position."
Meanwhile, Flake asserted during an interview that more GOP lawmakers would join him and Corker in publicly criticizing Trump.
"Those of us who had hoped for a pivot, I think, agree now it's just not going to come ... A lot of my colleagues have spoken out, and I think a lot more will," Flake told ABC News.