Flake, who has taken some heat for criticizing the president but largely voting for his legislative agenda, had made similar threats before. In April, he briefly appeared ready to sink the nomination of Jim Bridenstine to be NASA director, saying he had bought time for “some discussions” but not saying what they concerned. Last week, he suggested that critics of the White House’s policy toward Cuba, like him, could gum up the judicial nominations and get leverage.
To date, Flake has supported all of the White House’s key judicial nominees, but the threat of a rebellion on one of the issues that has most united conservatives behind the president drew friendly fire. In a Sunday tweet, Rep. Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.) mocked Flake’s “hissy fit” and said he looked forward to the end of his colleague’s term this year.