Sen. Flake says there's a "better chance" Trump will lead in gun debate

Flake: Gun control a chance for Trump to lead

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Arizona told "CBS This Morning" he believes President Trump has a "better chance" he'll lead and get out in front of the gun debate after an over hour-long meeting at the White House. Flake, a vocal critic of Mr. Trump as of late, was in attendance for the meeting where he said there's a "number of things" lawmakers can get progress on as the pressure mounts for Congress to act on gun legislation. 

"His leadership here is really critical if it's going to get through the House and Senate," Flake said of any potential gun laws. 

The outgoing senator has introduced a new bipartisan measure along with Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, to raise the minimum age to purchase assault weapons from 18 to 21, a proposal the president has previously voiced interest in supporting. 

"I think there's a number of things we can do and if we do them all, we'll make a difference," he said. 

Flake acknowledged that the meeting, which the press was allowed to document in its entirety, had a similar feeling to the one held on immigration reform, which he said yielded little results. 

"We heard a lot of good things that Tuesday but by Thursday a lot had been walked back," Flake said. 

Flake said of the latest meeting, that much of what the president discussed on Wednesday was "remarkable." 

"It was remarkable for him to say, hey, put this as part of the bill, why don't you have this part of the bill. Most remarkable was his statement on due process, anything that we have introduced in the Congress respects due process, you got to do that. So it was a bit astonishing to hear his language there and people around the table were kind of shaking their heads," said Flake.

He added, "But you can chalk that up to, he misspoke, let's move ahead, so I think there's a lot of excitement afterwards that he might actually lead on this and we need that."

Mr. Trump criticized members of Congress for not acting on gun legislation because they're "afraid" of the NRA. Flake, someone who has received campaign donations and backing by the gun lobby, says he's now more willing to voice his concerns and disagree with the organization without the pressure of a re-election campaign. 

"But now, having the president say 'I'm ok with these things' will mean a lot to some of my colleagues," he said.

Flake said he's now "freed of political considerations" which led him to make the decision to retire from the Senate. 

"I didn't want to go for this last year just beholden to the time involved, one, the fundraising and everything else, I thought it was important somebody stand up and I'm concerned  about the direction of the administration on a number of issues," he added.

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    Emily Tillett is the digital producer at "Face the Nation"