NBC host Matt Lauer tested Sen. Jeff Flake's (R., Ariz.) "newfound freedom" on Wednesday, asking the senator whether he thought it would have been better for the country if Hillary Clinton won the 2016 presidential election.
As a member of the Republican Party, Flake did not vote for President Donald Trump and announced on Tuesday that he will not run for reelection in 2018 as a result of the "current Republican climate."
Lauer questioned how far the senator's opposition to the president extends during an interview on NBC's "Today" in a clip flagged by NewsBusters.
"Senator, let me test your newfound freedom for a second. I know you disagree with her on just about every major policy issue facing this country," Lauer said. "But in terms of protecting our democracy, protecting respect for the Office of the Presidency, and protecting our image abroad, is it possible in your mind to consider that it would have been better if Hillary Clinton had won this election?"
In response, Flake began to discuss the problems with Trump's leadership and with Republicans' decision to "bargain" with the president.
"We've made a Faustian bargain with this president that we could excuse the behavior simple because we could get some conservative judges, tax cuts, or other things," Flake said.
Lauer pressed the senator on whether it would have been better if Clinton won. Flake acknowledged he didn’t vote for either candidate in the 2016 Presidential election, but refrained from answering the question directly.
"I would love to have a Republican president, but not at any cost. I didn’t vote for this president last November," Flake said. "Or Secretary Clinton, either."
"Second thoughts on that?" Lauer interjected.
"I can tell you, I’m not happy with the direction we're going," Flake concluded.