White House attacks Republican senator after he likens Trump to Stalin

He's 'looking for some attention', the White House said about Senator Jeff Flake 

Alexandra Wilts
Washington DC
Wednesday 17 January 2018 22:24 GMT
Sarah Huckabee Sanders slams Jeff Flake's comments on Donald Trump

The White House has struck back against Republican Senator Jeff Flake, saying he is only attacking President Donald Trump to get “attention”.

Just hours before, Mr Flake had delivered a scathing address on the Senate floor in which he compared the President to Soviet despot Joseph Stalin for calling news outlets “the enemy of the American people”.

In response, White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders admonished Mr Flake for his recent trip to Cuba, a communist country.

“I found it quite interesting that he is coming out to attack this president considering he is one who was recently defending an actually oppressive regime,” Ms Sanders told reporters during a briefing. “He went to Cuba a few weeks ago and served as a mouthpiece for the oppressive Cuban government.”

She continued: “He is not criticising the president because he is against oppression, he is criticising the president because he has terrible poll numbers and he is, I think, looking for some attention.”

Mr Flake has been one of the most vocal critics of Mr Trump in the Republican party.

When announcing last year that he would not seek re-election in 2018, he delivered a strong rebuke to his own party for letting Mr Trump get away with “reckless, outrageous and undignified behaviour”.

Mr Flake was facing a tough fight to re-win his seat in next year’s election. Polls showed him to be unpopular in Arizona.

On the Senate floor on Wednesday, he said, “2017 was a year which saw the truth — objective, empirical, evidence-based truth — more battered and abused than any other time in the history of our country, at the hands of the most powerful figure in our government.”

“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,” Mr Flake added.

The conservative’s comments were reinforced by his fellow Arizona Republican, Senator John McCain, who warned in an opinion piece in the Washington Post that Mr Trump’s efforts to undermine the press’s credibility are “being closely watched by foreign leaders who are already using his words as cover as they silence and shutter one of the key pillars of democracy.”

During the briefing, a reporter also asked Ms Sanders about the planned “Fake News Awards” – which Mr Trump said on Twitter would “be presented to the losers on Wednesday, January 17th.”

“We’ll keep you guys posted,” Ms Sanders said, adding that it would take place “later today”.

“I know you’re all waiting to see if you’re big winners, I‘m sure,” she joked.

The President has used the term “fake news” on his Twitter feed at least 167 times, according to a search in an online archive – usually to disparage reporting about him or his administration that he does not like.

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