Jeff Flake caves again -- withdrawing his 'no' vote on controversial judge so Pence could break the tie
Sen. Jeff Flake on ABC

Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) flaked again when he withdrew his "no" vote against controversial judicial nominee Jonathan Kobes.


Flake has pledged to stage an epic protest against President Donald Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY), who refused to allow a vote on a bill to protect Bob Mueller.

“So my commitment to not vote for judges before the committee or on the floor until we get this done stands,” Flake told reporters Wednesday.

“That’s not an idle threat,” CNN host Jake Tapper said when Flake announced his protest. He noted “if he votes against any of the 32 judges that come before the Senate floor, that makes it 50-50 and [Vice President] Mike Pence gets to be a tiebreaker.

That's exactly what happened Thursday, when Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-OK) was unable to vote, though he would have been a "yes" vote. Flake's "no" vote would have prevented Kobes from being confirmed. Instead, Flake withdrew his "no" vote so that the vote would be 49 to 49 and Pence would have to cast the tie-breaking vote.

The incident comes just weeks after a New York Times book reviewer Jennifer Senior withdrew her positive review of Flake's new book Conscience of a Conservative.

“I said that Flake’s book had rhetorical power,” Senior wrote. “But looking back on it, it didn’t... In my initial review, I did note that Flake’s words wouldn’t be worth much if they weren’t matched by deeds."

“Jeff Flake’s book couldn’t even convince Jeff Flake,” she added. “As of this writing, he has voted with Trump 84 percent of the time.”

“He wrote of the despair he was feeling beneath the lacquered smile,” she added. “But Flake, as a sitting senator, has been in the position to do more than despair. He has been in the position to swallow his misgivings about policy and align himself with the opposition. He could have waged guerrilla warfare against Trump’s agenda at decisive moments.”

Kobes' nomination was opposed by several groups, including a rating of "Not Qualified" from the nonpartisan American Bar Association’s (“ABA”) Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary.