Flake: Trump's Russia summit ‘truly an Orwellian moment’

Flake: Trump's Russia summit ‘truly an Orwellian moment’
© Greg Nash

Sen. Jeff FlakeJeffrey (Jeff) Lane FlakeBiden nominates former Sen. Tom Udall as New Zealand ambassador Biden to nominate Jane Hartley as UK ambassador: report The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Voting rights will be on '22, '24 ballots MORE (R-Ariz.) on Thursday blasted President TrumpDonald TrumpSenators introduce bipartisan infrastructure bill in rare Sunday session Gosar's siblings pen op-ed urging for his resignation: 'You are immune to shame' Sunday shows - Delta variant, infrastructure dominate MORE's rhetoric during his summit with Russian President Vladimir Putin, calling it an "Orwellian moment" and the result of his colleagues indulging in "myths and fabrications" on Trump administration policies.

"Well, we saw earlier this week in Helsinki what was a truly an Orwellian moment," Flake said from the Senate floor.

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"I will say that if ever there was a moment to think not of your party but of your country, this is it. This is a not a moment for spin, deflection, justification, circling the wagons, forgetting, moving along to the next news cycle or for more of Orwell’s doublespeak," Flake said, referring to George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."

He added that Trump's remarks at a joint press conference after the summit in Helsinki, Finland, where the president refused to denounce Russia's election meddling and appeared to echo Putin's denials, gave lawmakers a "dose of reality" about Trump's policies.

"We have indulged myths and fabrications, pretended that it wasn’t so bad, and our indulgence got us the capitulation in Helsinki. We in the Senate who have been elected to represent our constituents cannot be enablers of falsehoods," Flake continued.

Flake's speech came shortly before another senator, Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynBiden's bipartisan deal faces Senate gauntlet Senate votes to take up infrastructure deal Biden officials pledge to confront cybersecurity challenges head-on MORE (R-Texas), blocked the passage of a resolution from Flake and Sen. Christopher CoonsChris Andrew CoonsBottom line Kavanaugh conspiracy? Demands to reopen investigation ignore both facts and the law Key Biden ally OK with dropping transit from infrastructure package MORE (D-Del.) that would have given Senate support to the intelligence community's finding that Russia interfered in the 2016 presidential election.

Flake, who is retiring after 2018, has emerged as one of Trump's most vocal GOP critics, especially on foreign policy. But Trump sparked widespread backlash on Monday when he refused to denounce Russia's election meddling.

Trump tried to walk back the comments on Tuesday when he said he accepted the intelligence community's finding, but he added that it could be "other people" too.

"What we saw last week in Helsinki is what happens when you wage war on objective reality for two solid years, calling real things fake and fake things real, as if conditioning others to embrace this same confusion," Flake said on Thursday.

He added that the reaction to Trump's comments ranged from "heartbreak to horror" and that Trump failed "to summon reality in the face of a despot and in defense of your country."

"To reject these findings ... is an act of will on the part of the president, and that choice now leaves us contemplating a dark mystery: Why did he do that? What would compel our president to do such a thing?" Flake questioned.