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Former Sen. Jeff Flake would rather not see Trump impeached

(AP File Photo)

PHOENIX – Former Republican U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake said Thursday that while he wouldn’t vote to re-elect President Donald Trump, he would “hate to see him impeached.”

Flake, who represented Arizona from 2013 until early this year, made his remarks during a lecture series appearance at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee.

“I hope we don’t go through an impeachment process because of what it does to a divided public,” he said.

But the vocal Trump critic added he would support impeachment if qualifying evidence came forward about the president and possible ties to Russia or some other potential political scandal.

U.S. House Intelligence Committee Chairman Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) said that same evening he will “do what is necessary” to confirm a published report that Trump directed his personal attorney Michael Cohen to lie to Congress about negotiations over a real estate project in Moscow during the 2016 election.

The Tennessee Star reported Flake told a crowd of about 2,000 that Trump won because of “a particularly weak opponent on the Democratic Party side,” in Hillary Clinton.

Flake has said he wouldn’t run for president in 2020, telling CNN in November, “I think that the future of the party is with people with an optimistic vision moving ahead. I don’t think that will be me.”

He was not asked about his political aspirations during the Chancellor’s Lecture Series, “The Conscience of a Conservative: Returning to Civil Discourse in American Politics.”

The Arizona native announced a year in advance that he would not run for re-election in the 2018 general campaign.

His seat was eventually won by Democrat Kyrsten Sinema.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

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