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senate speeches
January 17, 2018

Outgoing Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) took to the Senate floor Wednesday to decry President Trump's authoritarian tendencies.

Flake specifically referenced a February tweet from Trump, in which the president declared that the "FAKE NEWS media" is "the enemy of the American people." "It is a testament to the condition of our democracy that our president uses words infamously spoken by Joseph Stalin to describe his enemies," Flake said.

The Washington Post points out that Stalin used a phrase similar to Trump's tweet to justify the execution of his enemies. The words were denounced three years after Stalin's death by then-Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

Flake, a frequent Trump critic, was especially bothered by the way Trump "inspired dictators and authoritarians with his own language," noting how Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, and Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro have all invoked the phrase "fake news" to justify or lie about their actions.

Although Flake's speech aired on various news networks, The Washington Post's Erica Werner pointed out that the only audience on the Senate floor was Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.) and a smattering of reporters. Kelly O'Meara Morales

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