Monday, 24 September, 2018

Senator Jeff Flake calls for Trump to face 2020 primary challenge

Sen. Jeff Flake R-Ariz. leaves a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators Monday Jan. 22 2018 on Day Three of the government shutdown on Capitol Hill in Washington Jacquelyn Martin AP Senator Jeff Flake
Patty Aguilar | 13 March, 2018, 22:17

Days before he travels to the state that holds the first presidential primary, Sen.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Tuesday that it is "highly unlikely" the Senate will take up legislation to undo President Trump's steel and aluminum tariffs.

The orders were signed over the objections of more than 100 congressional Republicans, who urged Trump in a letter to at least pare back the scope of the tariffs. "But that's not to say it will stay that way".

Flake, whom many speculate has his own presidential ambitions, did not indicate whether he meant to be that challenger.

The tariffs of 25 percent on imported steel and 10 percent on imported aluminum provoked an outcry from GOP lawmakers when Trump announced them with nearly no warning earlier this month. "I understand that it's a challenge on the campaign trail, certainly", Flake said. "Somebody who voices, you know, reservations about where the president is or criticizes his behavior ... it's tough to be re-elected in a Republican primary".

"I understand free trade is sometimes a challenge". The president rolled out the tariffs Thursday, extending an initial exemption to Canada and Mexico while raising the possibility of exemptions for other countries that renegotiate their trade policies with the United States.

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He said it's tough to make the case that the Republican Party is still the party of free trade. "I think we're going completely the wrong direction, " he said. "And so we need to trade".

Flake also chided Trump for attacking the press at a political rally Saturday night in Pennsylvania.

Todd asked him if other Republicans should join him in condemning Trump's behavior. "The problem is when you say, "Let's have tariffs, but let's couple that with uncertainty" - that's nearly worse, " Flake said.

"I just think it could be very hard for it to pass, and I know the president wouldn't sign it", said Sen.

Dan Nowicki is national political reporter for The Arizona Republic, part of the USA TODAY NETWORK.

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