Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) challenged another Republican senator over his account of whether or not President Trump used derogatory words to speak about immigration from certain countries.
Several news sources said they independently confirmed that Trump asked, “Why are we having all these people from s**thole countries come here?” during a meeting about immigration negotiations. He was speaking in reference to El Salvador, Haiti and several African countries.
Sen. David Perdue (R-Ga.), who released a joint statement with Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) to say that he did not recall the president making such a statement, appeared on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday. There, he argued that the statements were doctored by Sen. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), who also confirmed the statements in a press conference.
Appearing as a guest shortly after Perdue, Flake responded to the assertion by saying that Trump’s words were being talked about “before they even went public.”
Flake, who has often broken with his fellow Republicans to criticize the president, is set to deliver a Senate speech comparing the president’s public fight against the media to the actions of Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin.
Flake has specifically taken issue with the president using the term “enemy of the people” to describe the media.
“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 in his speech, according to ABC, which received excerpts from the speech from Flake’s office. “It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase ‘enemy of the people,’ that even [later Soviet leader] Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin to for the purpose of ‘annihilating such individuals’ who disagreed with the supreme leader.”
In October, the senator cited blind devotion to the president as one of the reasons he would not seek re-election after his term has ended.