One of Donald Trump’s most vocal Republican critics in Congress, Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona, weighed in Wednesday morning with how he saw himself working with the president-elect in the future, urging Americans to give the Trump transition team “some space.”
“I’m of the mind to give the president a lot of deference when he’s putting together his team,” Flake told “CBS This Morning” in a Wednesday interview. “It’s never easy to do, particularly when you’re coming in not having been in government...It’s a tough thing under any circumstances. Under these circumstances, I think it’s doubly difficult.”
On Mr. Trump’s controversial choice of Steve Bannon, the former head of Breitbart News and his campaign’s CEO, as a top White House strategist, Flake cautioned against “rendering judgment” too early.
“I don’t know him at all,” Flake said of Bannon. “I haven’t studied to see what remarks were actually his...I just have seen some things attributed to the publication that he used to run.”
“When you see things that are printed in Breitbart, and some of the headlines and whatnot, of course that’s concerning,” he added. “How much he can be blamed for that, that’s another question.”
Flake further discussed the possibility of the president-elect appointing former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani as secretary of state.
“There’s some other names floated as well,” the Arizona senator said, suggesting Senate Foreign Relations Committee chair Bob Corker of Tennessee as another plausible candidate. “I don’t want to make a comment that would influence the Trump administration one way or another... But obviously we want somebody who can be effective there.”
Giuliani’s possible appointment to the State Department slot has already raised a few eyebrows, after media reports came out that the loyal Trump backer has previous business ties to Qatar, Venezuela and Iranian exiles.
“I’ve seen that being reported,” Flake said, but added that he’d “reserve judgment on that.”
Flake, addressing legislative issues, also slammed Congressional earmarks, which he called “both wasteful and corrupting.”
“I would hate to bring earmarks back now,” Flake said of new legislation that would soften earmark restrictions. “When we’re talking about draining the swamp, the last thing we ought to do is go back to these parochial projects that are extremely wasteful and corrupting.”