Jeff Flake: ‘Dark Mystery’ Behind Trump’s Refusal to Denounce Putin Before the World

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) expressed concern in a Senate floor speech Thursday about President Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce Russian election meddling during a joint press conference with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this week.
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Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) expressed concern in a Senate floor speech Thursday about President Donald Trump’s refusal to denounce Russian election meddling during a joint press conference with President Vladimir Putin in Helsinki this week.

A partial transcript follows:

SEN. FLAKE: Mr. President, in his dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell wrote, “The party told you to reject the evidence of your eyes and ears. It was their worst essential final command.” Well, we saw earlier this weekend in Helsinki what was truly an Orwellian moment. What we saw earlier this week in Helsinki happens when you wage war on objective reality for nearly two solid years, calling real things fake and fake things real – as if conditioning others to embrace the same confusion. Ultimately, you’re rendered unable to tell the difference between the two and are at critical times seemingly rendered incapable of thinking clearly–your mind, a hash of conspiracy theory and fragments of all talking points deployed in response to a question even asked. Ultimately, you failed to summon reality in the face of a despot in defense of your country.

It wasn’t a hard question, Mr. President. An American president was invited by a reporter to denounce Russia attacks on our elections and, in doing so, defend the country he was elected to lead. This should have been not much of a test at all for any American president — and yet, it was. Our president failed that test. The finding of our intelligence community regarding Russian aggression are not matters of opinion, no matter how strong Putin’s denial. To reject these findings and to reject the excruciating specific indictment against the twelve named Russian operatives are indifference to the word of a KGB apparatchik is an act of will on the part of the president. That choice now leaves us contemplating the dark mystery: why did he do that? What would compel our president to do such a thing? Those are questions that urgently beg for an answer, and it is our job to find that answer. But what isn’t a mystery is by choosing to reject objective reality in Helsinki, the president let down the free world by giving aide and comfort to an enemy of democracy. In so doing, he dimmed the light of freedom ever so slightly in our own country. Such is the power we vest in the presidency. Such are the consequences when a president does not use that power well.

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