Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) issued a long denunciation of President Donald Trump on the Senate floor Wednesday and defended the American free press.
“It is past time to stop excusing, or ignoring, or worse, endorsing these attacks on the truth,” said Flake. “For if we compromise the truth for the sake of our politics, we are lost.”
Trump routinely attacks the media, who he has called the “enemy of the people.” Flake also said that Trump was channeling Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin when he made such statements.
“Mr. President, 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,” Flake said.
Sen. Jeff Flake: “Mr. President, 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” https://t.co/ByDENxNNoF
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) January 17, 2018
Flake has been one of President Trump’s biggest critics within the GOP. While he has been a reliable Republican vote for the president’s agenda, the two men spent much of 2017 criticizing each other.
On Twitter, Flake’s speech was met with skepticism on both the left and the right. Pro-Trump Republicans blasted him as a traitor, while liberals dismissed Flake because of his conservative voting record.
“Before you get all misty eyed about @JeffFlake and his “scathing” Trump speech, remember that he has voted 90 percent with the president, and his rare opposition includes being on the wrong side of disaster aid to Puerto Rico.,” said MSNBC anchor Joy Reid.
“Jeff Flake is no hero.”
Before you get all misty eyed about @JeffFlake and his “scathing” Trump speech, remember that he has voted 90 percent with the president, and his rare opposition includes being on the wrong side of disaster aid to Puerto Rico. Jeff Flake is no hero. https://t.co/yj144te1eb
— Joy Reid (@JoyAnnReid) January 17, 2018
And it pretty much went from there.
"Hi, I'm Jeff Flake. I'm really worried about our Stalinist President, which is why I voted less than 24 hours ago to increase his domestic spying powers and prevent any safeguards or checks on how Stalin can use those powers. I'm available for cable TV interviews and praise!" https://t.co/occJV9oIfi
— Glenn Greenwald (@ggreenwald) January 17, 2018
Jeff Flake just voted to hand Trump more domestic surveillance power yesterday. His words are beyond meaningless https://t.co/Q9XPDoJCte
— Trevor Timm (@trevortimm) January 17, 2018
Does anybody have a video of Jeff Flake's condemning despotism on the Senate floor when Obama admin hacked Sharyl Attkisson's laptop & cell phone?! Or when Obama tapped the phones of AP reporters? Or snooped on reporter James Rosen?
Oh no, wait…
— Liz Wheeler (@Liz_Wheeler) January 17, 2018
The suspicion that Jeff Flake is disingenuous shouldn’t stem from his votes for conservative bills that Trump signs, but from his complete unwillingness to use his oversight power, and inherent powers as a senator, to rein in Trump and stop his unprecedented corruption.
— Brian Beutler (@brianbeutler) January 17, 2018
Flake speech was kinda anticlimactic, IMHO. Only two senators (both Democrats) attended. If Trump is smart he won't acknowledge it with a tweet.
— David Martosko (@dmartosko) January 17, 2018
Flake is billed as a libertarian & says Trump is like Stalin. But this alleged libertarian Trump critic voted to give Trump more power to use the government’s surveillance apparatus.
There seems to be a gap between the libertarian brand, the anti-Trump rhetoric & the actions.
— David Sirota (@davidsirota) January 17, 2018
Jeff Flake pic.twitter.com/lkl2s50TZm
— Katrina Pierson (@KatrinaPierson) January 17, 2018
One notable outlier was “Morning Joe” host Joe Scarborough, a Flake friend who tweeted this helpful image of Joseph Stalin admiring his — very large crowd size.
“Free press is the despot’s enemy.”
~Jeff Flake pic.twitter.com/oWuStxmtm2
— Joe Scarborough (@JoeNBC) January 17, 2018