Former Republican Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake urged his Republican colleagues not to support the president’s 2020 reelection bid. He said they have a moral obligation to put their principles first, even if they fear losing their careers in congress, according to his op-ed published in The Washington Post.
Flake said in the op-ed that Senate Republicans should refuse to support a second term for the president, despite their feelings toward a Democrat-controlled United States House of Representatives and the impeachment inquiry of Trump.
"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 doesn’t deserve reelection,” Flake said in the op-ed. “For those who want to put America first, it is critically important at this moment in the life of our country that we all, here and now, do just that.”
NAU political science professor Fred Solop does not see Flake's op-ed to be a cause of concern for the Republican party and the president.
"The president has a loyal following in the Republican party, and it will be very hard for the Republican party to move away from the president over an op-ed from former Sen. Flake," Solop said. "However, if there is strong and convincing evidence against the president during the impeachment inquiry, there may be a chance for the party to distance itself from the president."
Just three days before Flake's op-ed was published, he discussed pending impeachment talks against the president in an interview with NPR. During this interview, Flake said he believes 35 Republican senators would vote for impeachment if the vote was private.
“It could be 35. Anybody who has sat through two years, as I have, of Republican luncheons realizes that there's not a lot of love for the president,” Flake said in the NPR interview. “A private vote could go a lot differently, but that doesn’t matter because that is just a hypothetical.”
In order to remove the president from office, the House must vote to approve articles of impeachment. This would lead to a Senate trial, and a two-thirds majority vote would be needed to convict the president.
However, Flake, in his op-ed, stated that impeachment amid the Ukrainian scandal may benefit the president.
"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," Flake wrote. "Disunion is the oxygen of this presidency."
Junior Brock Schroeder, president of the NAU Political Society, shared his thoughts on Flake's op-ed.
"I personally don't think Flake's op-ed could hurt the president's chances of reelection, but the op-ed can very well signal the president's supporters to pay more attention to the impeachment inquiry," Schroeder said. "The chances of the president being impeached are very low at this moment, but that could always change."
Schroeder said President Trump's responses on Twitter may hurt his defense in impeachment proceedings, but also said the president has a very strong base of right-wing supporters.
"President Trump's response on Twitter could hurt him in terms of the impeachment efforts against him, as it could show his fear of impeachment," Schroeder said. "However, the president has a very strong base that still overwhelmingly supports his reelection campaign."
The impeachment inquiry is still in its infancy, but Senate Republican lawmakers hope to wrap up the Senate impeachment trial by the Christmas holiday.
Flake said despite his reservations toward impeachment, the president's actions may call for removal from office.