Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona had some very strong words for President Trump and his fellow Republican congresspeople during a speech he made Wednesday on the Senate floor. Flake said Trump’s repeated attacks on the media were “shameful” and “repulsive” and reminiscent of words infamously used by Russian dictator Josef Stalin to describe his enemies.
“No longer can we compound attacks on truth with our silent acquiescence. No longer can we turn a blind eye or a deaf ear to these assaults on our institutions,” Flake said in his speech. “An American president who cannot take criticism — who must constantly deflect and distort and distract — who must find someone else to blame — is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the President adds to the danger.”
Flake, who has been a frequent critic of Trump, will be retiring this year.
“For without truth, and a principled fidelity to truth and to shared facts, Mr. President, our democracy will not last,” Flake said. “It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.
“The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy,” Flake continued. “When a figure in power reflexively calls any press that doesn’t suit him “fake news,” it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press.”
Flake went on to say that to call the Russia matter a “hoax” – as the president has many times – is a falsehood.
“We know that the attacks orchestrated by the Russian government during the election were real and constitute a grave threat to both American sovereignty and to our national security,” Flake said. “It is in the interest of every American to get to the bottom of this matter, wherever the investigation leads.
“Ignoring or denying the truth about hostile Russian intentions toward the United States leaves us vulnerable to further attacks,” Flake added. “We are told by our intelligence agencies that those attacks are ongoing, yet it has recently been reported that there has not been a single cabinet-level meeting regarding Russian interference and how to defend America against these attacks. Not one. What might seem like a casual and routine untruth – so casual and routine that it has by now become the white noise of Washington – is in fact a serious lapse in the defense of our country.”