On March 8, Trump signed two executive orders that will enact broaden tariffs of 25 per cent on steel and 10 per cent on aluminium.
The orders were signed over the objections of more than 100 congressional Republicans, who urged Trump in a letter to at least pare back the scope of the tariffs.
"I understand free trade is sometimes a challenge. I understand that it's a challenge on the campaign trail, certainly," Flake said.
"It's much easier to point to a shuttered factory," he said, "or some other convenient scapegoat".
But Flake maintained that tariffs will make things worse, not better, for Americans and the US economy, reports CNBC News.
"You can be pro-growth or pro-tariff, but you cannot be both," he added.
He expected lawmakers who support free trade to keep lobbying the administration to add more exemptions.
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