By Solange Reyner
Former Sen. Jeff Flake says it’s time for the Republican Party to move on from Donald Trump.
In a column written for CNN published Monday, Flake recounted the 2017 incident at a practice for the annual Congressional Baseball Game where James Hodgkinson shot House Majority Whip Steve Scalise. Then-Vice President Mike Pence called Flake to make sure he was OK.
“To be sure, our friendship had been strained since Mike had accepted the vice-presidential nomination, but my life was at risk, and Mike felt the need to check on his friend,” wrote Flake.
Pence didn’t get the same treatment from then-President Trump on Jan. 6 when he had to be rushed off the Senate floor to a secure room while a mob of rioters protesting the results of the 2020 presidential election stormed the U.S. Capitol shouting, “Hang Mike Pence.”
“While huddled in the secure room with his family, surely the Vice President would be handed a phone where he would hear a familiar voice — the concerned voice of the President, the man to whom Pence had by then been unfailingly loyal for more than four years,” Flake wrote.
“But that call from the President didn’t come. Not in that room off the Senate chamber. Not later that day. Not that night. Not the next day. Or the next day. In those intense moments, instead of using his phone to call and check on his Vice President, President Trump used his phone to encourage the mob by tweet, attacking his Vice President for lacking the ‘courage’ to overturn the election. He later deleted the tweet, but not soon enough.”
Trump on Saturday was acquitted in his second Senate impeachment trial. He remains popular among the GOP base, but many Republicans in Washington have cooled to him.
Never before have so many members of a president’s party — seven GOP senators, in his case — voted for his removal in a Senate trial.
“My fellow Republicans, to make our way back from this four-year detour will require a dose of honest self-reflection,” writes Flake. “We were once the conservative party. Our party chose to vacate any claim to that mantle when we gave ourselves over to a reality TV figure whose commitment to anything other than his own self-interest has always been hard to discern. He cared so little about anyone or anything other than himself that we now know that he couldn’t even be stirred to defend his own Vice President when his life was in danger.”