Retiring Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) had some tough words for President Donald Trump in his commencement speech to Harvard Law Grads.
Flake famously said several months ago that he'd spend his final months in Congress speaking out against the president, but he reserved his harshest criticism for a friendly audience Wednesday, telling the Harvard students that the "Presidency has been debased," and that "our leadership ... probably can't get much worse."
"Not to be unpleasant, but I do bring news from our nation's capital. First, the good news: Your national leadership is not good," Flake told his audience. "At all. Our presidency has been debased. By a figure who has a seemingly bottomless appetite for destruction and division. And only a passing familiarity with how the Constitution works."
But Flake didn't stop there.
"Now, you might reasonably ask, where is the good news in that? Well, simply put: We may have hit bottom," he continued. "Oh, and that's also the bad news. In a rare convergence, the good news and bad news are the same: Our leadership is not good, but it probably can't get much worse."
"It will be the work of your generation to make sure that this degradation of democracy does not continue — to see to it that our current flirtation with lawlessness and authoritarianism does not become a heritable trait to be passed down from this presidency," he said.
Flake later defended his speech in an interview with Wolf Blitzer, saying that he felt a "constitutional imperative" to trash the president to an audience of mostly people who disagree with Trump's ideology.
"Whether it's passing immigration reform or authorization for use of force, we shouldn't continually say, 'We'll pass what the president wants,' we should pass what we think we should do and ask the president to sign it. He can either sign it or veto it. But we've given far too much, and I think it's time for the Congress to stand up," he told the CNN host.
Flake will leave office in January, well before the president.