Senator Jeff Flake expected to deliver floor speech comparing Trump’s attacks on media to Stalin’s
By Aileen Graef and Liz Turrell, CNN
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona is expected to deliver a floor speech on Wednesday in which he will compare President Donald Trump’s attacks on the news media to the rhetoric of late Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
According to an excerpt of the speech, Flake will criticize the President for calling the news media the “enemy of the people,” calling it “an assault as unprecedented as it is unwarranted.”
“Mr. President, 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,” reads the excerpt. “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.”
Flake’s prepared speech goes on to say the President’s actions should be “a great source of shame” for the Senate and the members of the Republican Party.
“The free press is the despot’s enemy, which makes the free press the guardian of democracy,” Flake’s remarks say. “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 he will not be seeking re-election in 2018, has said he will use his remaining time in the Senate to speak out against the President when he believes it is warranted.
A frequent critic of Trump, Flake announced his decision to retire in a Senate speech in October that bemoaned the “coarsening” tenor of politics in the United States and criticized his own party’s “complicity” with Trump’s behavior.
The Arizona Republican has said he doesn’t have any formal plans to run for President after his time on Capitol Hill.
“I don’t rule anything out, but it’s not in my plans,” Flake told ABC’s “This Week” last month.