Flake: Trump's treason comments 'not normal'

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeFlake donates to Democratic sheriff being challenged by Arpaio in Arizona The Hill's Morning Report - Trump says US-China trade talks to resume, hails potential trade with Japan, UK Joe Arpaio to run for Maricopa County sheriff in 2020  MORE (R-Ariz.) ripped President TrumpDonald John TrumpSupreme Court comes to Trump's aid on immigration Trump is failing on trade policy Trump holds call with Netanyahu to discuss possible US-Israel defense treaty 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."