Thu | Jan 17, 2019

GOP senator denounces Trump attacks, recalls Stalin rhetoric

Published:Thursday | January 18, 2018 | 12:03 AM
Senator Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., talks to reporters just after a blistering speech on the Senate floor aimed at President Donald Trump, at the Capitol in Washington, yesterday.


President Donald Trump's use of the terms 'fake news' and 'enemy of the people' is "shameful" and reminiscent of words infamously used by Soviet dictator Josef Stalin to describe his enemies, Republican Senator Jeff Flake said yesterday. In a speech on the Senate floor, Flake, of Arizona, called Trump's repeated attacks on the media "repulsive" and said Trump "has it precisely backward". Despotism is the enemy of the people, while a free press is the despot's enemy and a guardian of democracy, Flake said.

Flake, a frequent Trump critic who is retiring this year, said that when Trump calls news stories he doesn't like fake news , he "should be the figure of suspicion, not the press".

The White House had no immediate comment.

Flake has said he is not comparing Trump to Stalin, who was responsible for the deaths of millions, but said Trump's use of a term favoured by Stalin, "enemy of the people", is chilling.

"This alone should be a source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the president's party", Flake said.

Arizona's other Republican senator, John McCain, also decried Trump's use of the term fake news and said Trump was encouraging autocrats around the world "to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny, and mislead citizens".