01:49 - Source: CNN
Flake: Trump's Stalin-esque rhetoric a concern

Story highlights

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake said he is not comparing Trump to Stalin directly

He called for other Republicans to speak out when Trump attacks the press

Washington CNN  — 

GOP Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona plans to deliver a speech comparing President Donald Trump’s attacks on the press as reminiscent of Joseph Stalin, and said Monday that his colleagues should join him in speaking out.

“I hope that more of my colleagues will stand up when the President uses ‘fake news,’ for example, in ways that I think put journalists across the world in danger,” Flake told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

Flake has been among the most outspoken critics of Trump’s statements and policies regarding trade and immigration, and the senator said he plans this week to deliver a speech on the Senate floor attacking Trump for calling mainstream outlets “the enemy of the American People!”

Flake made clear, however, that he did not intend to compare Trump to Stalin but wanted to note that the President’s attack on the press as “the enemy of the people” recalled Stalin.

“I am in no way comparing President Trump to Joseph Stalin – Joseph Stalin was a killer; our President is not,” Flake said. “It just puzzles me as to why you would use a phrase that is so loaded and that has such deeper meaning, the press being the enemy of the people.”

Flake cited a report from the Committee to Protect Journalists that said 2017 was the second year in a row where the number of journalists imprisoned for their work reached a historical high. The report said Trump’s anti-press rhetoric “serves to reinforce the framework of accusations and legal charges that allow” authoritarians the world over to imprison journalists.

GOP Sen. John McCain of Arizona shared the same report last month and said Trump “must understand his harmful rhetoric only empowers repressive regimes to jail reporters & silence the truth.”

Flake said on Monday that when the President denigrates the press, he hopes more of Trump’s political allies will speak out.

“I would hope that more of my Republican colleagues would stand up and say, ‘That’s not proper, Mr. President,’ ” Flake said.