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Flake delivers blistering attack on Trump's treatment of the press

Jeff Flake and Trump
Photo: Jabin Botsford / The Washington Post via Getty Images

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) urged his colleagues Wednesday to speak out against President Trump's attacks on the free press, driving home how damaging the relationship between Trump and the truth is to American democracy:

"No politician will ever get to tell us what the truth is and is not ... When a figure in power reflexively calls any figure that doesn't suit him 'fake news,' it is that person who should be the figure of suspicion, not the press."

Flashback: Flake's plea is reminiscent of his emotional Senate retirement speech in October, where he condemned the "flagrant disregard of truth and decency" in politics today.

Key quotes:

  • "The enemy of the people,’ was what the president of the United States called the free press in 2017 ... It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously used by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies."
  • "Despotism is the enemy of the people, a free press is the despot's enemy."
  • "We are in an era in which the authoritarian impulse is reasserting itself."
  • Flake also pointed to other countries whose authoritarian governments demonize their own press to get away with human rights abuses.