U.S. senators rip Trump over his attacks on the media

WASHINGTON, Jan 17 (Reuters) - Republican U.S. Senator Jeff Flake castigated President Donald Trump on Wednesday for his attacks on the media, saying Trump had embraced the despotic language of former Soviet dictator Josef Stalin and inspired modern-day authoritarians.

In a rare intraparty rebuke from the Senate floor, Flake said Trump's portrayal of the press as "the enemy of the people" and repeated White House references to "fake news" and "alternative facts" had spurred copycats such as Syrian President Bashar al-Assad and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.

Stalin, who led the Soviet Union from the mid-1920s until he died in 1953, used the phrase "enemy of the people" to describe those he wanted annihilated. Trump's use of the phrase "should be a source of great shame," Flake said.

Flake, 55, an Arizona conservative who has frequently feuded with Trump, described himself in October as out of step with his party and said would not seek re-election. His term ends in January 2019.

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Sen. Jeff Flake
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Sen. Jeff Flake
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) arrives for meeting about the Republican Tax Reform package on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., November 9, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sen. Jeff Flake speaks with reporters ahead of votes on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., December 6, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks with reporters about the Senate health care bill on Capitol Hill in Washington, U.S., July 12, 2017. REUTERS/Aaron P. Bernstein
American aid worker Alan Gross (2nd R) poses after his release with L-R, U.S. Rep. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD), U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ), and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) at the airport in Havana, Cuba, December 17, 2014 in this photo tweeted by Rep. Van Hollen. The United States is planning to restore diplomatic relations with Cuba more than 50 years after they were severed, a major policy shift after decades of hostile ties with the communist-ruled island. REUTERS/Courtesy the office of Rep. Chris Van Hollen/Handout (CUBA - Tags: POLITICS) FOR EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. THIS IMAGE HAS BEEN SUPPLIED BY A THIRD PARTY. IT IS DISTRIBUTED, EXACTLY AS RECEIVED BY REUTERS, AS A SERVICE TO CLIENTS
WASHINGTON, DC - DECEMBER 5: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., listens as President Donald Trump speaks before hosting a lunch with Senate Republicans in the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Dec. 05, 2017. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 9: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., and Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., listen as President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with lawmakers on immigration policy in the Cabinet Room at the White House in Washington, DC on Tuesday, Jan. 09, 2018. (Photo by Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 30: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) looks on during a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing concerning the authorizations for use of military force, October 30, 2017 in Washington, DC. As Mattis and Tillerson face questions about the administration's authority to use military force, Congress is still seeking more information about the deadly ambush that killed four U.S. troops in Niger. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) speaks to reporters on Capitol Hill after announcing he will not seek re-election October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flake announced that he will leave the Senate after his term ends in 14 months. (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 24: Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) and his wife Cheryl Flake leave the U.S. Capitol as they are trailed by reporters, October 24, 2017 in Washington, DC. Flake announced that he will not be seeking re-election and he will leave the Senate after his term ends in 14 months. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - OCTOBER 18: Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., listens as Attorney General Jeff Sessions testifies during the Senate Judiciary Committee hearing on Full committee hearing on 'Oversight of the U.S. Department of Justice' on Wednesday, Oct. 18, 2017. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call)
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"Not only has the past year seen an American president borrow despotic language to refer to the free press, but it seems he has in turn inspired dictators and authoritarians. ... This is reprehensible," Flake said.

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders, responding to Flake's speech, said the senator was an attention-seeker. "He's not criticizing the president because he's against oppression," Sanders said at a White House briefing. "He's criticizing the president because he has terrible poll numbers and he is, I think, looking for some attention."

Trump's attacks on the media in response to critical stories about him have been a staple of his Twitter feed and he tweeted in February 2017 that "The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American people!"

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A running list of all the times Trump has attacked 'fake news' on Twitter
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A running list of all the times Trump has attacked 'fake news' on Twitter

**Click through the following slides to see a running list of tweets President Trump has sent regarding 'fake news.'

(Photo by Jaap Arriens/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

Well, now that collusion with Russia is proving to be a total hoax and the only collusion is with Hillary Clinton a… https://t.co/9hkgQun4vG
The media has been speculating that I fired Rex Tillerson or that he would be leaving soon - FAKE NEWS! He’s not le… https://t.co/tYYnq58Zmk
So now that Matt Lauer is gone when will the Fake News practitioners at NBC be terminating the contract of Phil Gri… https://t.co/6vWDKTgCQG
Wow, Matt Lauer was just fired from NBC for “inappropriate sexual behavior in the workplace.” But when will the top… https://t.co/xvaYsbO0le
Great, and we should boycott Fake News CNN. Dealing with them is a total waste of time! https://t.co/8zJ3j7g5el
We should have a contest as to which of the Networks, plus CNN and not including Fox, is the most dishonest, corrup… https://t.co/3f2NxPueRO
Wow, even I didn’t realize we did so much. Wish the Fake News would report! Thank you. https://t.co/ApVbu2b0Jd
Does the Fake News Media remember when Crooked Hillary Clinton, as Secretary of State, was begging Russia to be our… https://t.co/0QnLU03c03
The rigged Dem Primary, one of the biggest political stories in years, got ZERO coverage on Fake News Network TV last night. Disgraceful!
....earth shattering. He and his brother could Drain The Swamp, which would be yet another campaign promise fulfilled. Fake News weak!
The Fake News is working overtime. As Paul Manaforts lawyer said, there was "no collusion" and events mentioned took place long before he...
Just read the nice remarks by President Jimmy Carter about me and how badly I am treated by the press (Fake News). Thank you Mr. President!
"Clinton campaign & DNC paid for research that led to the anti-Trump Fake News Dossier. The victim here is the President." @FoxNews
It is finally sinking through. 46% OF PEOPLE BELIEVE MAJOR NATIONAL NEWS ORGS FABRICATE STORIES ABOUT ME. FAKE NEWS, even worse! Lost cred.
Keep hearing about "tiny" amount of money spent on Facebook ads. What about the billions of dollars of Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC & CBS?
Stock Market hits another all time high on Friday. 5.3 trillion dollars up since Election. Fake News doesn't spent much time on this!
I hope the Fake News Media keeps talking about Wacky Congresswoman Wilson in that she, as a representative, is killing the Democrat Party!
The Fake News is going crazy with wacky Congresswoman Wilson(D), who was SECRETLY on a very personal call, and gave a total lie on content!
So much Fake News being put in dying magazines and newspapers. Only place worse may be @NBCNews, @CBSNews, @ABC and @CNN. Fiction writers!
Sadly, they and others are Fake News, and the public is just beginning to figure it out! https://t.co/8B8AyA7V1s
The Fake News Is going all out in order to demean and denigrate! Such hatred!
With all of the Fake News coming out of NBC and the Networks, at what point is it appropriate to challenge their License? Bad for country!
It would be really nice if the Fake News Media would report the virtually unprecedented Stock Market growth since the election.Need tax cuts
The Fake News is at it again, this time trying to hurt one of the finest people I know, General John Kelly, by saying he will soon be.....
Rex Tillerson never threatened to resign. This is Fake News put out by @NBCNews. Low news and reporting standards. No verification from me.
Why Isn't the Senate Intel Committee looking into the Fake News Networks in OUR country to see why so much of our news is just made up-FAKE!
Wow, so many Fake News stories today. No matter what I do or say, they will not write or speak truth. The Fake News Media is out of control!
We have done a great job with the almost impossible situation in Puerto Rico. Outside of the Fake News or politically motivated ingrates,...
In analyzing the Alabama Primary race,FAKE NEWS always fails to mention that the candidate I endorsed went up MANY points after endorsement!
Despite the Fake News Media in conjunction with the Dems, an amazing job is being done in Puerto Rico. Great people!
The Fake News Networks are working overtime in Puerto Rico doing their best to take the spirit away from our soldiers and first R's. Shame!
Fake News CNN and NBC are going out of their way to disparage our great First Responders as a way to "get Trump." Not fair to FR or effort!
Facebook was always anti-Trump.The Networks were always anti-Trump hence,Fake News, @nytimes(apologized) & @WaPo were anti-Trump. Collusion?
The greatest influence over our election was the Fake News Media "screaming" for Crooked Hillary Clinton. Next, she was a bad candidate!
Fascinating to watch people writing books and major articles about me and yet they know nothing about me & have zero access. #FAKE NEWS!
General John Kelly is doing a fantastic job as Chief of Staff. There is tremendous spirit and talent in the W.H. Don't believe the Fake News
The Fake News is now complaining about my different types of back to back speeches. Well, there was Afghanistan (somber), the big Rally.....
Last night in Phoenix I read the things from my statements on Charlottesville that the Fake News Media didn't cover fairly. People got it!
Thank you, the very dishonest Fake News Media is out of control! https://t.co/8J7y900VGK
Jerry Falwell of Liberty University was fantastic on @foxandfriends. The Fake News should listen to what he had to say. Thanks Jerry!
Heading back to Washington after working hard and watching some of the worst and most dishonest Fake News reporting I have ever seen!
Steve Bannon will be a tough and smart new voice at @BreitbartNews...maybe even better than ever before. Fake News needs the competition!
The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is. They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!
Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied...truly bad people!
After 200 days, rarely has any Administration achieved what we have achieved..not even close! Don't believe the Fake News Suppression Polls!
Hard to believe that with 24/7 #Fake News on CNN, ABC, NBC, CBS, NYTIMES & WAPO, the Trump base is getting stronger!
...and West Virginia. The fact is the Fake News Russian collusion story, record Stock Market, border security, military strength, jobs.....
The Trump base is far bigger & stronger than ever before (despite some phony Fake News polling). Look at rallies in Penn, Iowa, Ohio.......
The Fake News refuses to report the success of the first 6 months: S.C., surging economy & jobs,border & military security,ISIS & MS-13 etc.
I love the White House, one of the most beautiful buildings (homes) I have ever seen. But Fake News said I called it a dump - TOTALLY UNTRUE
Only the Fake News Media and Trump enemies want me to stop using Social Media (110 million people). Only way for me to get the truth out!
I love reading about all of the "geniuses" who were so instrumental in my election success. Problem is, most don't exist. #Fake News! MAGA
...about then candidate Trump." Catherine Herridge @FoxNews. So why doesn't Fake News report this? Witch Hunt! Purposely phony reporting.
Is Fake News Washington Post being used as a lobbyist weapon against Congress to keep Politicians from looking into Amazon no-tax monopoly?
So many stories about me in the @washingtonpost are Fake News. They are as bad as ratings challenged @CNN. Lobbyist for Amazon and taxes?
Drain the Swamp should be changed to Drain the Sewer - it's actually much worse than anyone ever thought, and it begins with the Fake News!
While all agree the U. S. President has the complete power to pardon, why think of that when only crime so far is LEAKS against us.FAKE NEWS
Sean Spicer is a wonderful person who took tremendous abuse from the Fake News Media - but his future is bright!
The Fake News is becoming more and more dishonest! Even a dinner arranged for top 20 leaders in Germany is made to look sinister!
Fake News story of secret dinner with Putin is "sick." All G 20 leaders, and spouses, were invited by the Chancellor of Germany. Press knew!
With all of its phony unnamed sources & highly slanted & even fraudulent reporting, #Fake News is DISTORTING DEMOCRACY in our country!
HillaryClinton can illegally get the questions to the Debate & delete 33,000 emails but my son Don is being scorned by the Fake News Media?
If Chelsea Clinton were asked to hold the seat for her mother,as her mother gave our country away, the Fake News would say CHELSEA FOR PRES!
...have it. Fake News said 17 intel agencies when actually 4 (had to apologize). Why did Obama do NOTHING when he had info before election?
I will represent our country well and fight for its interests! Fake News Media will never cover me accurately but who cares! We will #MAGA!
Dow hit a new intraday all-time high! I wonder whether or not the Fake News Media will so report?
At some point the Fake News will be forced to discuss our great jobs numbers, strong economy, success with ISIS, the border & so much else!
Watched low rated @Morning_Joe for first time in long time. FAKE NEWS. He called me to stop a National Enquirer article. I said no! Bad show
The #AmazonWashingtonPost, sometimes referred to as the guardian of Amazon not paying internet taxes (which they should) is FAKE NEWS!
Some of the Fake News Media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.
The failing @nytimes writes false story after false story about me. They don't even call to verify the facts of a story. A Fake News Joke!
So they caught Fake News CNN cold, but what about NBC, CBS & ABC? What about the failing @nytimes & @washingtonpost? They are all Fake News!
Fake News CNN is looking at big management changes now that they got caught falsely pushing their phony Russian stories. Ratings way down!
Wow, CNN had to retract big story on "Russia," with 3 employees forced to resign. What about all the other phony stories they do? FAKE NEWS!
Well, the Special Elections are over and those that want to MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN are 5 and O! All the Fake News, all the money spent = 0
The Fake News Media hates when I use what has turned out to be my very powerful Social Media - over 100 million people! I can go around them
Fake News is at an all time high. Where is their apology to me for all of the incorrect stories???
The Fake News Media has never been so wrong or so dirty. Purposely incorrect stories and phony sources to meet their agenda of hate. Sad!
Sorry folks, but if I would have relied on the Fake News of CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, washpost or nytimes, I would have had ZERO chance winning WH
Russian officials must be laughing at the U.S. & how a lame excuse for why the Dems lost the election has taken over the Fake News.
The Fake News Media works hard at disparaging & demeaning my use of social media because they don't want America to hear the real story!
Does anyone notice how the Montana Congressional race was such a big deal to Dems & Fake News until the Republican won? V was poorly covered
....it is very possible that those sources don't exist but are made up by fake news writers. #FakeNews is the enemy!
Whenever you see the words 'sources say' in the fake news media, and they don't mention names....
The Roger Stone report on @CNN is false - Fake News. Have not spoken to Roger in a long time - had nothing to do with my decision.
General Flynn was given the highest security clearance by the Obama Administration - but the Fake News seldom likes talking about that.
Why is it that the Fake News rarely reports Ocare is on its last legs and that insurance companies are fleeing for their lives? It's dead!
Wow,the Fake News media did everything in its power to make the Republican Healthcare victory look as bad as possible.Far better than Ocare!
The Fake News media is officially out of control. They will do or say anything in order to get attention - never been a time like this!
The two fake news polls released yesterday, ABC & NBC, while containing some very positive info, were totally wrong in General E. Watch!
Anybody (especially Fake News media) who thinks that Repeal & Replace of ObamaCare is dead does not know the love and strength in R Party!
It is the same Fake News Media that said there is "no path to victory for Trump" that is now pushing the phony Russia story. A total scam!
Why doesn't Fake News talk about Podesta ties to Russia as covered by @FoxNews or money from Russia to Clinton - sale of Uranium?
Just watched the totally biased and fake news reports of the so-called Russia story on NBC and ABC. Such dishonesty!
Just heard Fake News CNN is doing polls again despite the fact that their election polls were a WAY OFF disaster. Much higher ratings at Fox
James Clapper and others stated that there is no evidence Potus colluded with Russia. This story is FAKE NEWS and everyone knows it!
Despite what you have heard from the FAKE NEWS, I had a GREAT meeting with German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Nevertheless, Germany owes.....
Does anybody really believe that a reporter, who nobody ever heard of, "went to his mailbox" and found my tax returns? @NBCNews FAKE NEWS!
Don't let the FAKE NEWS tell you that there is big infighting in the Trump Admin. We are getting along great, and getting major things done!
Russia talk is FAKE NEWS put out by the Dems, and played up by the media, in order to mask the big election defeat and the illegal leaks!
FAKE NEWS media knowingly doesn't tell the truth. A great danger to our country. The failing @nytimes has become a joke. Likewise @CNN. Sad!
Give the public a break - The FAKE NEWS media is trying to say that large scale immigration in Sweden is working out just beautifully. NOT!
Don't believe the main stream (fake news) media.The White House is running VERY WELL. I inherited a MESS and am in the process of fixing it.
The FAKE NEWS media (failing @nytimes, @NBCNews, @ABC, @CBS, @CNN) is not my enemy, it is the enemy of the American People!
The Democrats had to come up with a story as to why they lost the election, and so badly (306), so they made up a story - RUSSIA. Fake news!
FAKE NEWS media, which makes up stories and "sources," is far more effective than the discredited Democrats - but they are fading fast!
The fake news media is going crazy with their conspiracy theories and blind hatred. @MSNBC & @CNN are unwatchable. @foxandfriends is great!
Just leaving Florida. Big crowds of enthusiastic supporters lining the road that the FAKE NEWS media refuses to mention. Very dishonest!
While on FAKE NEWS @CNN, Bernie Sanders was cut off for using the term fake news to describe the network. They said technical difficulties!
The failing @nytimes does major FAKE NEWS China story saying "Mr.Xi has not spoken to Mr. Trump since Nov.14." We spoke at length yesterday!
Chris Cuomo, in his interview with Sen. Blumenthal, never asked him about his long-term lie about his brave "service" in Vietnam. FAKE NEWS!
'16 Fake News Stories Reporters Have Run Since Trump Won' https://t.co/0dHld5kiVc
I call my own shots, largely based on an accumulation of data, and everyone knows it. Some FAKE NEWS media, in order to marginalize, lies!
Any negative polls are fake news, just like the CNN, ABC, NBC polls in the election. Sorry, people want border security and extreme vetting.
After being forced to apologize for its bad and inaccurate coverage of me after winning the election, the FAKE NEWS @nytimes is still lost!
Thank you to Prime Minister of Australia for telling the truth about our very civil conversation that FAKE NEWS media lied about. Very nice!
Somebody with aptitude and conviction should buy the FAKE NEWS and failing @nytimes and either run it correctly or let it fold with dignity!
The failing @nytimes has been wrong about me from the very beginning. Said I would lose the primaries, then the general election. FAKE NEWS!
Congratulations to @FoxNews for being number one in inauguration ratings. They were many times higher than FAKE NEWS @CNN - public is smart!
to the U.S., but had nothing to do with TRUMP, is more FAKE NEWS. Ask top CEO's of those companies for real facts. Came back because of me!
much worse - just look at Syria (red line), Crimea, Ukraine and the build-up of Russian nukes. Not good! Was this the leaker of Fake News?
Totally made up facts by sleazebag political operatives, both Democrats and Republicans - FAKE NEWS! Russia says nothing exists. Probably...
.@CNN is in a total meltdown with their FAKE NEWS because their ratings are tanking since election and their credibility will soon be gone!
We had a great News Conference at Trump Tower today. A couple of FAKE NEWS organizations were there but the people truly get what's going on
Intelligence agencies should never have allowed this fake news to "leak" into the public. One last shot at me.Are we living in Nazi Germany?
I win an election easily, a great "movement" is verified, and crooked opponents try to belittle our victory with FAKE NEWS. A sorry state!
FAKE NEWS - A TOTAL POLITICAL WITCH HUNT!
Reports by @CNN that I will be working on The Apprentice during my Presidency, even part time, are ridiculous & untrue - FAKE NEWS!
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That same month, Assad was quoted as dismissing charges of human rights violations at a military prison as "fake news." In the Philippines, Duterte lashed out on Tuesday at a "fake news outlet" known for challenging his government.

Noting Trump has said he will give out awards for "the most corrupt and dishonest" media, Flake said: "It beggars belief that an American president would engage in such a spectacle." Trump had said he would announce the mock awards on Wednesday, but Sanders said on Tuesday that it was a "potential event."

 

SIMILAR SENTIMENTS FROM McCAIN

The other Republican senator from Arizona, John McCain, made a similar criticism against Trump on Wednesday in an opinion piece in the Washington Post.

"Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets," wrote McCain, who is fighting aggressive brain cancer. "This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit."

19 PHOTOS
John McCain through the years
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John McCain through the years
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: TV RATINGS--Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., during hearing on the TV ratings system. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
20th August 1992: The Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, speaking at the Republican National Convention. A fomer prisoner of war for several years in Vietnam, he contested his party's nomination for the 2000 election. (Photo by Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
HANOI, VIET NAM: U.S. Sen. John McCain, a former POW, looks 31 May 1993 at a display of personal belongings of American POWs at the joint POW/MIA archives center in the Hanoi Army Museum. McCain is with U.S. Sen. John Kerry and a delegation on a two-day visit aimed at obtaining more access to archives dealing with the fate of missing U.S. servicemen. (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 18: MCCAIN'S DAY--Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., relaxes in his office at about 2:15 p.m. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 02: McCAIN BILL--John McCain,R-Ariz.,during a press conference on the McCain Bill and tobacco legislation. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : US Senator John McCain, R-AZ, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation begins the start of a hearing on the investigation of the scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC 14 April, 1999. AFP PHOTO/Mario TAMA (Photo credit should read MARIO TAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
HANOVER, : US Senator John McCain speaks to reporters 27 October,1999 in Hanover, New Hampshire. McCain criticized sugar, oil, and corn (shown behind) subsidies and linked them to 'soft money' campaign contributions. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, : Republican president hopeful John McCain greets supporters as he arrives at a debate forum sponsored by a local television station 02 December, 1999, in Manchester, New Hampshire. McCain will debate the other Republican candidates seeking the party's presidential nomination. (DIGITAL IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: John McCain addresses a shadow convention at the Annenberg Center of the University of Pennsylvania. McCain was booed when he asked suppoters to back his former primary opponent, George W. Bush. The shadow convention was put on near the site of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia to highlight issues that the organizers say the major parties are ignoring. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
CAMDEN, UNITED STATES: GOP presidential hopeful US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) waves during an 'Old Fashion BBQ and Stump Meeting' on the front yard of a supporter's house 08 January 2000 in Camden, South Carolina. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
PETERBOROUGH, NH - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (L) and his wife Cindy are showered with confetti following McCain's final town meeting 30 January, 2000 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) (Photo credit should read C.J. GUNTHER/AFP/Getty Images)
GREENWOOD, : Republican presidential hopeful John McCain makes a point 14 February 2000 during a town hall meeting at the American Legion Post 20 in Greenwood, South Carolina. McCain is campaigning heavily in the southern state against Texas Governor Geroge W. Bush ahead of the 19 February 2000 primary. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1789 -- Pictured: (l-r) Senator John McCain during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 1, 2000 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 30: Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on climate change. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: TEMPORARY GUEST WORKERS--Witness Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during the Senate Judiciary Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee hearing titled 'Evaluating a Temporary Guest Worker Proposal.' (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: SENATE POLICY LUNCHES--Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters after the Senate GOP policy luncheon. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) addresses The Northern Virginia Technology Council's Titans breakfast at the Capitol Hilton September 20, 2006 in Washington, DC. McCain spoke on a variety of subjects, including telecommunications legislation, net neutrality, research and development tax credits, immigration, and Internet taxes. He also addressed the rift that he and several other Republican senators are having with the White House over the Geneva Conventions. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - JULY 04: US Senator John McCain (C) holds a press conference at ISAF HQ in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 4, 2017. US Senator John McCain visited the headquarters of NATO-led mission after his visit at Pakistan. (Photo by Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, July 13, 2017 -- U.S. Senator John McCain is swarmed by reporters as he leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. July 13, 2017. Senate Republicans of the U.S. Congress on Thursday unveiled a new healthcare bill that they hoped can fulfill their long-time goal to 'repeal and replace' the Affordable Care Act. (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
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In his clashes with Trump, Flake has called his behavior sometimes "reckless, outrageous and undignified" and criticized the president in a book that made the New York Times best-seller list last year.

On Twitter, Trump has referred to the senator as "Flake(y)" and said Flake dropped his re-election bid because he was doomed to lose. He also has called Flake ineffective, "toxic" and weak on issues such as crime and border security.

Still, Flake has voted for Trump's policies. He supported Republican tax overhaul legislation last month and voted for unsuccessful bills to repeal and replace Obamacare, both efforts backed by Trump.

Flake laid some "official untruths" at Trump's door on Wednesday and said the most vexing was his labeling as a "hoax" the investigation of alleged ties between Russia and Trump's presidential campaign. "To call the Russia matter a 'hoax' ... is a falsehood," Flake said.

"We know that the attacks orchestrated by the Russian government during the election were real and constitute a grave threat," he said. "It is in the interest of every American to get to the bottom of this matter."

(Reporting by Susan Cornwell; Editing by Bill Trott and Peter Cooney)

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