President Donald Trump's criticism of the FBI is "not normal" and should not be accepted that way, Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday, in response to Trump's comments about former FBI Director James Comey.
"I don't know how many times or how many ways we can say it, that is not normal and should not be accepted as normal," the Arizona Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," minutes after the president wrapped up a half-hour, long-ranging interview on Fox News' "Fox and Friends."
"It undermines our institutions," said Flake. "I hate to see it continue, but it does. By this language continuing, it's not helpful."
During the interview, Trump called the goings-on with FBI officials a "disgrace" and accused the Justice Department of not doing its job when it comes to Comey.
Flake, who is not seeking reelection, told MSNBC that he thinks members of Congress should speak up when the president makes such comments.
"We can't be expected, and you get tired of responding to every interview and every tweet made, but when the president really goes out of bounds, it's our responsibility to stand-up and say so," said Flake. "He is going out of bounds with regards to the FBI and his criticism of it. This is out of bounds, it really is."
Flake said it seems that his party has become an "apologist" for the president's actions, "when we shouldn't be."
"On the second level, politically, it's not smart for us, as Republicans," said Flake. "I mean, we saw what happened with the midterm election in Arizona or sorry, the special election leading up to the midterms. There is no way to spin that than we are in trouble here. There is a large swath of voters who aren't comfortable with where Republicans are in terms of the president's actions and his behavior."
The Senate Judiciary Committee, to which Flake belongs, was to mark up legislation Thursday to protect Special Counsel Robert Mueller from being fired, but the senator said he's not convinced such legislation will hold up, constitutionally.
"There are good scholars on both sides of the issue here," Flake said. "I hope what it tells the president is Congress will not stand for his intervention, particularly with firing [Deputy Attorney General Rod] Rosenstein or Mueller."
Flake also commented on Trump's calling North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "very honorable" earlier this week, saying that worries him, even though he does agree with presidents speaking to adversarial leaders
"They are only on the tail end of a lot of diplomacy," said Flake. "I was glad to see Mike Pompeo went to see Kim Jong Un. I hope the preparations are going before. It can be a good meeting, but I tell you, I am worried when the president refers to him as very honorable. I think that Otto Warmbier's parents would disagree. A man who starves his own people is somehow very honorable doesn't comport with the truth."
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