Departing Sen. Jeff Flake on Wednesday ripped President Trump for his criticism of the media referring to them as “enemy of the people,” comparing Trump’s remarks to Russian dictator Josef Stalin and stated they ought to be a “source of great shame.”
“It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies,” the Arizona Republican stated on the Senate floor.
“It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ’enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbad 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,” Flake continued.
He stated Trump’s “repulsive” statements show he has it backward — “despotism is the enemy of the people.”
“This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president’s party,” he stated. “The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy. 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, who announced in October 2017 that he wouldn’t seek re-election, blasted Trump’s use of the phrase “fake news” and ticked off numerous falsehoods put forward by the president, including calling the Russia probe a “hoax,” alleging huge voter fraud during the 2016 election and raising questions on former President Obama’s birthplace.
He urged his Democratic and Republican colleagues in Congress “to be allies in the truth and not partners in its destruction.”
“Here in America, we do not pay obeisance to the powerful. In fact, we question the powerful most ardently. To do so is our birthright,” he stated.