Outgoing Arizona Republican Sen. Jeff Flake launched a fiery attack on President Trump Wednesday over Trump’s criticisms of the media — painting the president as a despot who spouts “pernicious fantasies” and causes global instability by his undermining of a free press.
“An American president who cannot take criticism, who must constantly deflect and distort and distract, who must find someone else to blame is charting a very dangerous path. And a Congress that fails to act as a check on the president adds to the danger,”” Flake said.
Flake’s remarks, made on the Senate floor, came as Trump was set to hold what he had described as the “Fake News awards” for members of the media.
In his remarks, Flake frequently warned of the danger of despotism, which he called “the enemy of the people” and reminding the Senate: “the free press is the despot’s enemy.”
He criticized Trump not only for his attacks on the media, which he claimed had given encouragement to dictators in Syria and the Philippines to undermine the press, but also for his own promotion of dubious stories.
“Not only has the past year seen a president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press but it seems that he has now in turn inspired authoritarians and dictators with his own language,” he said.
In particular, Flake cited what he called Trump’s “pernicious fantasies about rigged elections and voter fraud, which are as destructive as they are inaccurate.”
Flake has been one of the more outspoken critics of Trump among Republican lawmakers and in October attacked his fellow Republicans for their “complicity” in what Trump is doing. In that speech, he announced that he would not be seeking re-election in 2018.