Flake: Trump's treason comments 'not normal'

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeSenate GOP attempts to wave Trump off second Putin summit Senate approves resolution warning Trump not to hand over US officials Flake: Trump's Russia summit ‘truly an Orwellian moment’ MORE (R-Ariz.) ripped President TrumpDonald John TrumpNFL freezes policy barring players from protesting during anthem McConnell spokesman on Putin visit: 'There is no invitation from Congress' Petition urges University of Virginia not to hire Marc Short MORE for suggesting that Democrats not applauding during his State of the Union speech was treason, saying Trump's remarks are "not normal." 

"One who levels such a charge knows neither the meaning of treason nor the power that the words of a president carry. ... Our silence will also mark the day that we failed to recognize that this conduct in an American president is simply not normal," Flake said from the Senate floor. 

Trump said Monday that Democrats were "un-American" for largely sitting silent and stone-faced during his speech last week, adding: "Somebody said, 'treasonous.' I mean, yeah, I guess. Why not? Can we call that treason? Why not? I mean, they certainly didn't seem to love our country that much." 

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The White House has defended the remarks, saying Trump was being "tongue-in-cheek," but they've sparked wide backlash from Democrats as well as a growing number of Republicans. 
 
Flake questioned his colleagues, asking if they had grown "numb" to Trump's behavior, and warned if they had grown numb, they would come to regret not standing up for their Senate colleagues.
 
"I have seen the president's most ardent defenders use the now weary argument that the president's comments were meant as a joke, just sarcasm, only tongue-in-cheek, but treason is not a punch line," he said. 
 
He added that our "Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do. To suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable."