GOP senator warns Trump to avoid "personal attacks" on judges

Senator Jeff Flake
Senator Jeff Flake 06:24

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona, chastised President Trump Sunday for his condemnations of the judiciary branch, following a federal court decision not to reinstate his travel ban.

The Arizona Republican told “Face the Nation” host John Dickerson that while it was “fine to disagree with opinions” of judges, blasting specific judges was inappropriate.

“It’s fine to question the judgment. But to go after individual judges or to talk about them, I think Judge Gorsuch said it right, that is disheartening,” Flake said. “And I think that we ought to avoid any personal attacks like that.”

On Twitter, Mr. Trump heavily criticized the Seattle-based judge who first halted his travel ban, which stops refugees and any citizens from seven predominantly Muslim countries from entering the U.S. He even suggested that Judge James Robart would be responsible for any terror attacks that occurred on U.S. soil following his temporary restraining order on the ban.

Flake, who sits on the Senate Foreign Relations and Judiciary committees, pushed back on that Sunday.

“I don’t think that the ban that went in place was really based on our national intelligence or their assessment,” he said. “And so I don’t think that that’s healthy to do that, to try to blame judges or individuals if something happens in the future.”

But the Arizona Republican said he still believes that the executive order is well within the law.

“I do think that it’s constitutional. It’s not a Muslim ban, it is focused on countries rather than religion or individuals,” Flake said. “Having said that, I’ve been clear that I don’t think that it’s a good idea.”

Commenting on another immigration issue -- this time on the sudden uptick of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids taking place across the country -- Flake reiterated Mr. Trump’s promise that many of the arrests were for criminal undocumented immigrants.

“Nobody is shedding a tear for rapists and others for being deported. And I’m glad that those are being expedited,” Flake said. But for those undocumented immigrants who have not been convicted of felonies, the Republican said “there is a lot of worry here in Arizona by those who have committed, you know, they’ve come across, they’re illegally here, but they’ve not committed aggravated felonies.”

“I hope, and the only way to address this in a real way, in a permanent way, is for Congress to get involved,” Flake said. “The president needs to work with the Congress.”