Jeff Flake Compares Trump to Joseph Stalin

Posted: Jan 14, 2018 5:00 PM

U.S. Senator Jeff Flake (R-AZ) compared President Donald J. Trump’s animus towards the media to totalitarian dictator Joseph Stalin's propaganda on ABC News' ‘This Week’.

While discussing a series of speeches the soon-to-be-retired Senator will be giving over the next few weeks, host George Stephanopoulos read aloud an excerpt from one. 

STEPHANOPOULOS: We’ve gotten some excerpts of what you’re planning to say, taking on the president’s comments about calling the press the enemy of the people. And I just want to read a portion of what we’ve had.

It’s a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase enemy of the people that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade it’s use. And of course, the president has it precisely backward. Despotism is the enemy of the people, the free press is the despot’s enemy.

What are you trying to do with these speeches?

FLAKE: Well, I -- what I’m trying to say is, you know, you -- you can talk about crowd size and this is pretty innocuous if there’s a falsehood. But when you reflexively refer to the press as the enemy of the people or fake news, that has real damage. It has real damage to our standing in the world. And I noted how -- how bad it is for a president to -- to take what was popularized by Joseph Stalin, the enemy of the people, to refer to the press.

And then now, today, you have authoritarians across the world using the term fake news to justify cracking down on their opposition or -- or staunch legitimate debate. That’s nothing we should be proud of. And so I’m going to talk about how damaging that is. It’ll be I think on the same day, probably, Wednesday, that the president is giving out some fake news awards. And I -- I just want -- want the president to know that this has real consequences."

As noted by Cortney, Flake's distaste, putting it mildly, of Donald Trump is well documented. 

"The hostility between Flake and Trump started when we learned of Flake's "secret" book, "Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Politics and a Return to Principle," in which he trashed Trump's agenda. The 45th president had a major hand in "compromising" the Republican Party's morals, the politician/author suggested. After the discovery, Trump mocked the senator at a rally in Phoenix." 

Previously on 'This Week,' Flake has attacked Trump supports as angry and resentful. 

"When you look at some of the audiences cheering for Republicans, sometimes, you look out there and you say, 'those are the spasms of a dying party,' " Flake said on ABC's "This Week."

"When you look at the lack of diversity, sometimes, and it depends on where you are, obviously, but by and large, we're appealing to older white men and there are just a limited number of them, and anger and resentment are not a governing philosophy," he continued.