With the departure of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the administration of President Donald Trump, concerns regarding the protection of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference have never been more urgent. The President has sought to hinder the investigation at every turn and detested Sessions when he recused himself from overseeing the investigation – a move Trump saw as a betrayal.
Since Sessions’ departure, Trump has appointed the former Attorney General’s Chief of Staff Matthew Whitaker as acting AG. Like Trump, Whitaker is starkly against the Russia investigation, and many believe that allowing him to oversee it would bring the investigation to a halt.
Enter Senator Jeff Flake.
Flake (R-AZ) announced on the Senate floor that he would not approve any of the pending Judicial nominees until his colleagues passed the Special Counsel Independence and Integrity Act. The bill would amend the powers of appointing and firing special counsel and require that the counsel be given written notice specifying the reasons for removal.
Jeff Flake: "I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending in the Judiciary Committee or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting confirmation on the Senate Floor until S. 2644 [the Mueller protection bill] is brought to the full Senate for a vote." (via CSPAN) pic.twitter.com/JMWkREgsJx
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) November 14, 2018
This isn’t the first time Sessions has broken with the Republicans loyal to the President, but the times anything substantive came of his moderation can be counted on one hand. During the confirmation hearings of now-Justice Brett Kavanaugh, Flake abstained from voting until an FBI investigation into the multiple allegations of sexual assault against the nominee could be performed.
Despite the investigation having an extremely limited scope and being performed in under a week, Flake fell back in line to vote for Kavanaugh anyway.
Now, Americans are having Deja vu.
I'll believe this threat when Flake actually follows through on it.
— Richard Lorant (@richard_lorant) November 14, 2018
Wait so now he wants to be brave. Why was he not brave during the SC hearings? What a joke this man is.
— mommy1971 (@mommy1971) November 14, 2018
How many times has Jeff Flake gone to the Senate floor and acted “tough” until voting time? He could’ve been a hero a long time ago by voting no on Kavanaugh.
— JustHereForTheTweets (@hear_tweets) November 14, 2018
Didn't we see the same charades with " I believe Professor Ford let's pretend to investigate."
— Michael Ward (@michaelirish211) November 14, 2018
Even if Flake is being sincere, one crucial factor makes the gesture seem hollow to many.