Republican senator compares Donald Trump’s media attacks to Joseph Stalin  

A Republican senator has accused Donald  Trump of echoing Joseph Stalin in his “repulsive” attacks on the press.

Jeff Flake said Mr Trump had borrowed from the Soviet dictator when he said journalists were the “enemy of the people”. 

Mr Flake, who represents Arizona, said the phrase would precede killings and was even banned by one of Stalin’s successor’s because of its connotations.

The speech, delivered on the floor of the Senate, also hit out at “pernicious fantasies” pushed by Mr Trump, not least his claim Barack Obama was not born in America and that an official investigation into Russian election meddling is a “witch hunt”. 

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Mr Flake said the president’s “fake news” rhetoric had “inspired dictators and authoritarians” around the world, citing examples of when the words had been used to dismiss serious allegations. 

Donald Trump with Jeff FlakeCredit:
AFP

And he appeared to call for his fellow congressmen to be more forthright with the president, saying his actions brought “shame” on the Senate – not least among Republicans. 

Mr Flake is one of the most prominent critics of Mr Trump from within his own party and is stepping down later this year.

Even so, such heated criticism from a leading Republican will make headlines and is shared more widely in private on Capitol Hill. 

Mr Flake said: "The enemy of the people was how the President of the United States called the free press in 2017.”

He went on: “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.

“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 intruded by Stalin for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with his supreme leader.

“This alone should be the source of great shame for us in this body, especially for those of us in the President’s party. For they are shameful, repulsive statements.”