Jeff Flake vows not to vote on judicial nominees until vote on bill protecting Mueller

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters before he in addition to also Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., try to bring up the legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. 

J. Scott Applewhite | AP

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., speaks with reporters before he in addition to also Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., try to bring up the legislation to protect special counsel Robert Mueller, at the Capitol in Washington, Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018. 

Sen. Jeff Flake said Wednesday in which he will refuse to vote on dozens of President Donald Trump’s judicial nominees until a bill protecting special counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia probe comes to a vote within the Senate.

The Arizona Republican, who did not seek re-election in addition to also will retire at the end of his term, made the announcement on the Senate floor minutes after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., objected to his attempt to bring up the bill.

“I have informed the majority leader in which I will not vote to advance any of the 21 judicial nominees pending within the Judiciary Committee, or vote to confirm the 32 judges awaiting a confirmation vote on the floor, until S. 2644 is actually brought to the full Senate for a vote,” Flake said within the final sentence of the speech, referring to the Special Counsel Independence in addition to also Integrity Act.

“in which bill is actually designed to do one thing: protect the integrity of the Special Counsel’s investigation, in addition to also spare in which of any interference via the executive branch, including via those who may themselves be subjects of the investigation,” Flake said.

The departing senator’s speech was itself a rhetorical defense of the special counsel, whose team is actually investigating Russian interference within the 2016 U.S. presidential election in addition to also possible coordination between Trump’s campaign in addition to also the Kremlin.

“How such an investigation could be a cause of controversy is actually beyond me – surely we all recognize in which in which is actually essential to understand in which fresh form of foreign aggression to ensure in which we might better defend America against such attacks within the future, right?” Flake said.

The firing of Attorney General Jeff Sessions, who had recused himself via overseeing Mueller’s investigation, proved to Flake in which the president has the Russia probe in his crosshairs. Flake maintained his stated view in which the appointment of Sessions’ chief of staff, Matthew Whitaker, as acting attorney general was “improper,” even after the Justice Department cleared Whitaker for the role earlier.

As he has done numerous times via the Senate floor, Flake also criticized Trump directly. in which time, Flake ripped Trump for appearing at times “eager to accept [Russian President Vladimir] Putin’s denials at face value” when in which comes to the U.S. intelligence community’s assessment in which Russia interfered with the election in Trump’s favor.

Flake promised in which he in addition to also Sen. Chris Coons, D-Del., who has partnered with Flake within the effort, would likely raise the legislation “again in addition to also again” until in which is actually brought to a vote on the Senate floor.

Flake has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time, according to political data site FiveThirtyEight. When he departs the Senate in January, his seat will be filled by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema, who defeated Republican Martha McSally in a tightly contested election.

A spokeswoman for McConnell did not immediately respond to CNBC’s request for comment. A spokesman for Senate Judiciary Committee Chairman Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also did not immediately respond.

Flake’s vote is actually crucial for the nominees currently moving through the Judiciary Committee, which comprises 11 Republicans in addition to also 10 Democrats. Republicans cannot lose Flake’s vote if they want to advance those judges.

yet if Flake is actually the only senator voting across party lines within the full Senate body, Vice President Mike Pence will be able to cast the tie-breaker vote in addition to also push those nominees through.

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