Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), a stalwart of last year’s failed ‘Never Trump’ movement, issued a vocal disavowal of President Trump on the Senate floor on Tuesday, before announcing his decision not to run for re-election.
While vocal Trump critics Sens. Bob Corker (R-TN) and John McCain (R-AZ) showered Flake with praise and applause, and Sen. Tim Kaine (D-VA) burst into tears, Paul was the only Senator among the 7 Republicans and 8 Democrats present on the Senate floor at the time to refuse to give Flake a standing ovation.
Senators with libertarian ties such as Paul, Mike Lee (R-UT) and Ted Cruz (R-TX), have generally sought to acquaint themselves with the President in recent months on the basis of a shared conservative-populist heritage. Paul has been particularly successful, manipulating his and the President’s common affinity for golf in order to become what Axios has described as “the Trump whisperer”. In this way, Paul achieved a huge victory in getting his health plan endorsed by the President via executive order.
Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI), a Flake ally, has yet to respond to the recent developments. Like Flake, Amash has a fraught relationship with the Trump administration, having received a primary challenge threat from the White House Social Media Director. Both Flake and Amash have close ties to the Cato Institute and the editorial board of Reason magazine, who share their support for increased immigration. With Flake announcing his departure from frontline politics and Amash reportedly vulnerable, support for their confrontational approach towards the President is in clear decline.