Congresswoman Martha McSally has added her voice to the growing number of Arizona Republicans criticizing Senator Jeff Flake over his floor speech critical of President Donald Trump.
The two-term Tucson Republican - who is running to replace Flake later this year - said Flake should not have compared Trump to the former Soviet Union dictator.
“I don’t agree with Senator Flake and comparing our President to Stalin, who murdered 20 million people, is absurd," McSally told the Arizona Daily Star.
On the floor of the Senate, Flake said he was not comparing Trump to Stalin, but was concerned about Trump adopting the same language as the brutal dictator.
'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. It bears noting that so fraught with malice was the phrase “enemy of the people,” that even Nikita Khrushchev forbade its use, telling the Soviet Communist Party that the phrase had been introduced by Stalin for the purpose of “annihilating such individuals” who disagreed with the supreme leader," Flake said.
In an op-ed in today's Washington Post, Senator John McCain was critical of Trump's frequent attacks on the media.
"While administration officials often condemn violence against reporters abroad, Trump continues his unrelenting attacks on the integrity of American journalists and news outlets. This has provided cover for repressive regimes to follow suit. The phrase "fake news" — granted legitimacy by an American president — is being used by autocrats to silence reporters, undermine political opponents, stave off media scrutiny and mislead citizens," McCain wrote.
McSally said that Trump is not only referring to the negative press that he receives, but to a bias against Republicans.
"When President Trump talks about fake news, he’s not only referring to negative coverage on himself which independent studies have confirmed is around 90 percent of all broadcast statements, he’s also referring to general media bias," McSally said. "According to academic survey from 2014, only 7 percent of journalists identify as Republican. You don’t have to be a conspiracy theorist to presume there’s bias there.”
Two of McSally's GOP rivals - former state Senator Kelli Ward and former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio - both condemned Flake's comments.
In a post on Twitter, Ward called Flake's speech "appalling and an embarrassment to the state of the Arizona" and called on other Senate candidates vying to replace him to condemn his remarks.
Arpaio, who was pardoned by Trump last year, told NBC News that Flake should "resign immediately" from Congress.