Sen. Jeff Flake: Trump has 'consolidated his hold on the Republican Party'

Sen. Jeff Flake sits down with George Stephanopoulos on "This Week" to discuss immigration and President Trump's impact on the GOP in the November midterms.
3:00 | 06/24/18

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Transcript for Sen. Jeff Flake: Trump has 'consolidated his hold on the Republican Party'
And we're jned now by republan senator Jeff flake of Arizona. Senator, thank you foroining us again this morning. I want to pickon one of the arguments congressman Gutierrez just made. You co-sponsored the bill that allows the families to be detained for more than 20 days. You heard his argument. He said it's unhumane to the families andhe children. I don't know that ie co-sponsored that. That's a house bill. I don't think that the judge in the next week or couple of weeks will aow that lo detention. The flores decision will stand. D so I think another solution has to come. Aren't you working with senator Tillis? On legislation that allows families to be held longer than 20 days? I sorry. I thought you were talking about thus legislatn. I just don't think that is it. With the this legislat most of us envision some oth form, like the monitored release. The ankle bracelets. That has been ry effective. Case management is still difficult. It's far better. Than indefinite dention of Faes. Because some of the CAS can G for a long time. We don't have the jges or the infrastructure to do this. Are you certain the judge will strike down the president's exutive order? Yes, yes. So what happens next? I hope that we get back to -- I mean, congress has to X this. What is bothersome is the presids rhetoric abohe Democrats and their unwillingns to have border security or control. I wapart of the efrt in 2013, the bipartisan bill, the so-called "Ganof eight" bill. At provided $41 billion towards border security, infrastructure, manpower, technology every mocrat votedor that bill. Every one of them. They're on record supporting significant border control. When the president says th or calls them clowns a losers, how does he expect Democrats to sit down with Republicans and rk on those issues? Words matter. What the president says matter. He ought to knthat off. It does appear to be a -- stalemate right It's been very difficult. It's difficult any event in an election year where the prest has decided have this at forefront of Republican election strategy to paint Democrats soft of immigration. It seems very unlikely so -- mean, I don't know in the world we' going to fix this in the short term, given the force decision. And the lack of infrastructure and judges to process these claims. It's a big mess. Clearly, the president was stung byhe images of T families being separated. By the criti he got. Aw just last night, the president believes this the issue that lds to a Republican victory or stave off republic losses come November. R, right. Well, that's aough case to make in Nevada. As a tough ce to make in Arizona. These E areas where we understand it's a complex issue. And just the kind of rhetoric people being soft on the border are soft on crime. You know, that only goes so far. Soope that -- that republans run on something differ. We saw Dean heller talk about taxes, notbout immigration as he was introducing the present. Some Republicans have gone farther an you have. I was struck bcomment of George will in "Thwashington post" he said, I want to it on the scree a vote against the this November, to votagainst the president's party's cowering congressional ucuses, affirm the nation's honor while quaranning him. A democrat-controlled congress would be basket of deplorables, there would be enough Republicans to gum up the senate's ma chienry, as fix yat ING- from the H. I can tell you repuicans need to stand up on issues lik tariffs. CING us right now. We're in the cent stages of a full-sca trade war that the president seems to want to escalate. Congress ougo stand up and sa no, we're not going to do that. You can't use section 232 to claim that Canada is a national security threat. That's N who we are. How do U explain that the congress hasn't stood up? You have givenot of speeches about thesident. Talked about the president diarding the truth. You have said he's disregardi Republican orthodoxy. Yet you see on issue after issue, T house and senate standing behind this president. I think a of people, Republicans in the house and senate, look at us wh a 14% instional favorabi rating and long for the president's it makes it difft for my colleaguo say, hey, let's stand up to the prent. We ought to moreealously guard our institutional prerogative. I think in this crisis we're in. I think the judiciary hastood up well. The press. In T of institions that balance. The congress has been lacking. And on something like tariffs, for example, the senate ought to bring legislation to the floor that says, hey, we're going to sh back here. I'm sorry. You're misusing 232, Canada, Mexico, are not national security threats. The European union exports cars to the U.S. Does nepresent the national security at. And ought to push back. And ifedon't, you know, why are we there? Are you prepad to use you other powers to do that? I know youave considered on thssue of tariffs and other issues saying you will no longer allow judges to come out of the committee unless there is action on issues like tariffs? As George will put it in his column, article three branch is import, the courts. Certainly. We approved a number of judges. That is important. But cle one, congress article two, the executi, are imant, as well. Less we can do somet other than aroving the president's executive calendar, that we have no reason to be there. I think myselfnd a number of senators at least a few of us, will stand up and say let's not move any more judges until we get a vote, for ele, on tariffs. The only Republican presidentto have higherpproval ratings at point in modtimes than prent trump was George W. Bush after 11. He seems to have consolidated his hold over the Republican party.the Republican electorate. Has he redefed it? Unfortunately, yes. When John Boehner said the other day, this is the president's party, he was spking the truth. The ma Sanford loss clarified something if it wasn't claed before. You can't as a replican these days, stand in -- you know -- in opposition to some of the president's policies or not condone his behavior and expect to win a Republican primary. Th the reality. And we'reeeing that played out. Now, I don't think that will last. Buat is a reality right now. You say it may not . Does that you may be willing to challengehe president in 2020? You or somebody else? I have said I hope somebody does just to remind Republicans what it means to be conservative or rlican. We believe in limited government. Economic freedom. Ee trade. Immigration. I hope that somebody does. Jefflake, thank you F your time this morning. Thank you.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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