President Donald Trump took credit on Wednesday for the retirement of Sen. Jeff Flake after a smug reporter tried to get him to admit that he contributed to the cause of several exiting GOP lawmakers.
The Arizona Republican and vocal critic of the president announced that he would be retiring after this year, joining several other GOP lawmakers, like Speaker of the House Paul Ryan.
At an uber tense press conference at the White House Wednesday, a day after the midterm elections, the president was asked about “whose fault” it is that Republicans were announcing their retirements rather than seek re-election under a Trump administration.
“In Jeff Flake’s case it’s me, pure and simple. I retired him. I’m very proud of it, I did the country a great service,” Trump responded. A CBS video clip showed a seated reporter visibly gasp at the president’s comment.
“He is retired. I’d like to call it another word, but we’re going to treat him with great respect,” he added.
In an op-ed published in The Washington Post on Wednesday, Flake again took aim at the president, arguing that the GOP had to believe in “something greater” than Trump moving forward.
Post election thoughts https://t.co/L0769vqk7r
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) November 7, 2018
“There is only one real way forward, of course. But it has to start with Republicans believing in something greater than President Trump again,” Flake said.
Meanwhile, the race to replace the outgoing Arizona senator was too close to call as one percentage point separated GOP Rep. Martha McSally and Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.
At Wednesday’s press conference, Trump called out Republican House members who were defeated in Tuesday’s elections because they had not embraced his agenda. In one heated exchange, the president locked horns with CNN’s Jim Acosta and publicly scolded him.
“I tell you what, CNN should be ashamed of itself, having you working for them,” trump told the CNN correspondent. “You are a rude, terrible person. You shouldn’t be working for CNN.”
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