- Sen. Jeff Flake blasted President Donald Trump’s treatment of the press, comparing the president to dictator Joseph Stalin.
- Flake has been one of the most outspoken Republican opponents of Trump’s rhetoric.
Sen. Jeff Flake dedicated 15 minutes on Wednesday to blasting President Donald Trump’s criticism of the press.
In a speech on the Senate floor, the outgoing Arizona senator expanded on his previous denunciations of the president’s rhetoric, saying Trump’s attacks on journalists were “unwarranted” and “unprecedented.”
“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,” Flake said. “And a Congress that fails to act as a check on that president adds to that danger.”
"No politician will ever get to tell us what the truth is and is not. And anyone who presumes to try to attack or manipulate the truth to his own purposes should be made to realize the mistake and be held to account." — Sen. Jeff Flake pic.twitter.com/RLzgigQIuZ
— MSNBC (@MSNBC) January 17, 2018
Though often critical of Trump, Flake went further in Wednesday’s speech than in previous statements and interviews, saying America is “in an era when the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself” and noting the “daily dissembling of our institutions.”
He also compared the president to Russian dictator Joseph Stalin, and added that with his rhetoric, Trump was encouraging dictators and authoritarians like Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.
“It is a testament to the condition of our own democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies,” Flake said.
GOP chair Ronna McDaniel responded shortly after Flake’s speech.
Sen. Flake, turn on the news. It’s wall-to-wall with biased coverage against @POTUS. He has every right to push back. Comparing the leader of the free world to murderous dictators is absurd. You’ve gone too far.
— Ronna McDaniel (@GOPChairwoman) January 17, 2018
Flake is set to retire in 2019 after the conclusion of his term. Though he has been one of the most outspoken Republicans criticizing the president’s rhetoric, some on the left have argued that the Arizona senator has largely supported legislation backed by Trump.