Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) has a speech planned for Wednesday that will take President Donald Trump to task for his attacks on the media by comparing him to Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
The Arizona senator’s office on Sunday released excerpts of a speech the senator is expected to give on the Senate floor. The excerpts, published by multiple outlets, show Flake blasting Trump for declaring the press as the “enemy of the people” in a similar style as Stalin.
“Mr. President, it is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our own President uses words infamously spoken by Josef Stalin to describe his enemies,” Flake will say, according to the Washington Post and NBC News. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”
He adds, “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.”
The senator doubled down on his planned remarks and emphasized his point about Khrushchev during an interview with MSNBC’s Kasie Hunt on Sunday.
“I don’t think that we should be using a phrase that’s been rejected as too loaded by a Soviet dictator,” he said.
Flake is expected to deliver the speech on the Senate floor on Wednesday, the same day as Trump’s so-called “Fake News Awards.”
The “awards,” which Trump plans to give out for the “most dishonest and corrupt” coverage of himself, were originally planned for January 8. Trump later postponed them to January 17.
Trump has repeatedly complained about “unfair” reporting on his presidency, which has undergone scandal after scandal as special counsel Robert Mueller’s investigation into Russian election interference has put several Trump officials under intense scrutiny.
Flake, who plans to retire after the end of his term this year, has been openly critical of Trump, though he still reliably votes the party line. In his retirement speech in October, the Arizona senator painted himself as a D.C lawmaker unafraid of speaking out against the President and urged his colleagues to do the same.
“When the next generation asks us, ‘Why didn’t you do something? Why didn’t you speak up?’ What are we going to say?” he asked.