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Jeff Flake, Who Called Trump’s Accusations of Treason ‘Vile,’ Accuses Trump of Treason

The Arizona senator blasted Trump today for his press conference with Vladimir Putin.

NBC News/YouTube/ScreenshotNBC News/YouTube/ScreenshotSen. Jeff Flake (R–Ariz.), who earlier this year condemned Donald Trump for tarring his political opponents as traitors, stopped just short of applying that label to the president today.

Flake's comments came three days after Trump made controversial remarks at a joint press conference with Russian President Vladimir Putin. Trump told the world he accepted Putin's claim that the Russian government did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election. After that position provoked criticism from across the political spectrum, Trump claimed on Tuesday that he misspoke and believes Russia did interfere in the election.

Speaking from the Senate floor today, Flake slammed Trump for initially rejecting the findings of national intelligence officials that Russia meddled in the election. "The findings of our intelligence community regarding the Russian aggression are not matters of opinion, no matter how powerful and strong Putin's denial," Flake said. "To reject these findings and to reject the excruciating specific indictment against the 12 named Russian operatives in deference to the word of a KGB apparatchik is an act of will on the part of the president, and that choice leaves us contemplating the dark mystery, 'Why did he do that? What would compel our president to do such a thing?'"

Flake then suggested that Trump's remarks verged on treason. "The president let down the free world by giving aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy," he said. "In so doing, he dimmed the light of freedom ever so slightly in our own country." Although Flake did not explicitly call Trump a traitor, his meaning was clear, since Article III of the U.S. Constitution says treason consists of giving "aid and comfort" to America's enemies.

Flake, a harsh critic of Trump, has changed his tune since February, when he blasted the president for calling Democrats "treasonous" because they didn't applaud during his State of the Union speech. "Applause signals approval of an idea, not loyalty to one's country," Flake said back then. "Our Democratic colleagues love this country as much as we do, and to suggest otherwise is simply unconscionable." He said Trump's comments were "vile" and that "one who levels such a charge knows neither the meaning of treason nor the power that the words of a president carry."

Flake was right when he noted the seriousness of charging someone with treason. As Reason's Robby Soave explained on Monday, it's possible to criticize Trump's Putin-pleasing performance on Monday without calling him a traitor:

Diplomacy is good, and Democrats shouting "Treason!" whenever the president does something dumb is as obnoxious in the Trump years as it was when the Republicans did it during the Obama years. It's a mistake to indulge in grand conspiracy theorizing—Manchurian candidates! The Americans! Urinating sex workers!—to explain the president's actions when mundane incompetence and egomania fit just as nicely.

Flake seems to have forgotten (or just ignored) his own words.

Photo Credit: NBC News/YouTube/Screenshot

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  • Rock Lobster||

    Senator Flake is aptly named.

  • Demosthenes3000||

    Transcript of the treasonous question/answer for analysis:

    QUESTION: Just now, President Putin denied having anything to do with the election interference in 2016. Every U.S. intelligence agency has concluded that Russia did.
    What — who — my first question for you, sir, is who do you believe?

    TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server — haven't they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?

    I've been wondering that, I've been asking that for months and months and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying?

    With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coates came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia.

    I will say this: I don't see any reason why it would be. But I really do want to see the server.

  • Demosthenes3000||

    (continuing Trump answer)

    But I have — I have confidence in both parties. I — I really believe that this will probably go on for a while, but I don't think it can go on without finding out what happened to the server. What happened to the servers of the Pakistani gentleman that worked on the DNC? Where are those servers? They're missing; where are they? What happened to Hillary Clinton's e-mails? 33,000 e-mails gone — just gone. I think in Russia they wouldn't be gone so easily. I think it's a disgrace that we can't get Hillary Clinton's 33,000 e-mails.

    TRUMP: So I have great confidence in my intelligence people, but I will tell you that President Putin was extremely strong and powerful in his denial today.

    And what he did is an incredible offer. He offered to have the people working on the case come and work with their investigators with respect to the 12 people. I think that's an incredible offer. OK?

  • Conchfritters||

    So I have great confidence in my intelligence people...

    They don't deserve it.

  • Jerryskids||

    Careful there, it almost sounds like you're questioning Trump's very good brain. Trump trusts people with badges to keep us safe from our enemies and when they determine that Donald Trump is the enemy, who are you to question that?

  • Conchfritters||

    I read a book called Legacy of Ashes. To sum up 900 pages - the CIA is full of shit.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    It's been part of the CIA's job to lie with a straight face for the purpose of destabilizing governments to install a puppet regimes.

    Why would I not find anything they say as suspect?

  • BigT||

    "Trump told the world he accepted Putin's claim that the Russian government did not interfere in the 2016 U.S. presidential election"

    Fake news, as Demo3000 demonstrates.

    Reason, bringing proggie bs every day.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Context is not for the proles. Only spin.

  • Happy Chandler||

    So, Senator Flake accused Trump of treason, without saying treason, or calling him a traitor. Got it.

    Using the word treason is indeed wrong when applied to people not clapping for you. I don't think that's controversial. That's as pitiful as Jeb! "Please Clap" Bush.

    Saying that Trump gave aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy is pretty self evident. By trashing our security services in front of someone who does not practice fair and free elections is exactly that. It is also not the definition of treason.

  • Rubbish!||

    Too dense to understand a joke, and too dense to understand that "I have great confidence in my intelligence people" does not equal "trashing our security services." But keep reading those headlines.

  • Happy Chandler||

    TRUMP: So let me just say that we have two thoughts. You have groups that are wondering why the FBI never took the server — haven't they taken the server. Why was the FBI told to leave the office of the Democratic National Committee?

    I've been wondering that, I've been asking that for months and months and I've been tweeting it out and calling it out on social media. Where is the server? I want to know where is the server and what is the server saying?

    With that being said, all I can do is ask the question. My people came to me, Dan Coates came to me and some others, they said they think it's Russia. I have President Putin; he just said it's not Russia.

    That is shit talking the intelligence community. And it's all crap.

  • Let freedom ring||

    so, now in your infinite wisdom you know more than international observors who certified Russian elections as both free and fair? Some local corruption, which we know about because of CCTV cameras in the polling areas.

  • Happy Chandler||

    http://infographics.economist......racyIndex/

    Russia scored 3.17, well in the authoritarian range. It is not a democracy.

  • Happy Chandler||

    But the OSCE, which had 500 monitors here, points out that "fairness" has deeper roots.

    "We couldn't find real political pluralism," mission head, Ilkka Kanerva, told the BBC - despite the presence of 14 parties on ballot papers.

    "The ruling party is so strong, dominating the media, and its role is so central, small parties don't have much space to act," he said.

    From the BBC.

  • SIV||

    Lone Sheep: "Mmmm let's all have some tasty grass for dinner"

    Pack o' Wolves: " Let's take a vote"

    I'm an enemy of Democracy.

  • Sevo||

    Happy Chandler|7.19.18 @ 6:44PM|#
    "...Saying that Trump gave aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy is pretty self evident."

    Any post by happy horseshit is pretty much guaranteed to be lies. mis-direction or other dishonesty.
    Stuff it up your ass, happy.

  • Happy Chandler||

    Stuff it up my ass? I'm disappointed. You're usually more imaginative. Up past your bedtime?

  • damikesc||

    Shocked no "libertarian leaning" monicker.

    The findings of our intelligence community regarding the Russian aggression are not matters of opinion, no matter how powerful and strong Putin's denial,"

    ...because, God knows, our intel agencies don't have a long and storied history of being incredibly wrong on a lot of issues.

    To reject these findings and to reject the excruciating specific indictment against the 12 named Russian operatives

    Indictment > Evidence, it seems.

    "The president let down the free world by giving aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy,

    ...but enough about the EU..."

    Remember, he is retiring because his voters, in every possible way, don't want him.

  • TrickyVic (old school)||

    I think they don't know what giving aid and comfort means, or to whom it applies.

  • KevinP||


    Speaking from the Senate floor today, Flake slammed Trump for initially rejecting the findings of national intelligence officials that Russia meddled in the election. "The findings of our intelligence community regarding the Russian aggression are not matters of opinion, no matter how powerful and strong Putin's denial," Flake said.

    Was this the same intelligence community that declared that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction and a program to procure more?

  • Rubbish!||

    Yes, yes it is. George "Slam Dunk" Tenet, CIA Director at the time, said it best, speaking for the best and brightest in the intel community, including John Brennan.

  • Conchfritters||

    The same intelligence community who tried to influence the election in Palestine in 2006?

    Per Wikipedia:

    "Hamas won, despite millions of clandestine dollars flowing from the Bush administration to Fatah during the closing weeks of the campaign. Then-Senator Hillary Clinton commented at the time: "we should have made sure that we did something to determine who was going to win."

  • Jerryskids||

    No, this is the intelligence community that missed the 9/11 hijackers, the Benghazi attack, the Boston Marathon bombers, the Pulse nightclub shooter... in fact, just about every terrorist plot they themselves didn't instigate. They're the proverbial people who couldn't pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were printed on the bottom.

  • James Smith||

    Even more pertinent, remember the SONY hack and the threats over the movie "the Interview". Our intelligence sources said "oh yeah, it's the North Koreans". Then, if I remember correctly, it came out it was some kind of inside job with some kind of extortion attempt.

  • damikesc||

    But we know, FOR A FACT, Russians were behind DNC and all. Because hacking tools and the like aren't available online and hiding the source of a hack is, you know, utterly impossible.

  • Agammamon||

    So, another crappy headline.

    Os clickbait the future of Reason? If that's what you all are going for, more power to you, bit I'd like to know.

  • Let freedom ring||

    Flake publically rebuked Rand Paul's statement that US has interfered in over 80 elections, based on a peer reviewed study. He said US only intervenes to "help people have elections".
    In same mold, former CIA head Woolsey, as well as Clapper and Hayden, have said we only intervene when its for "their own good"
    The deep state and its political water carriers believe that America, in Jeb Bush's words, is always a force for good in the world.
    Trump is causing massive cognitive dissonance resulting in gobs of self righteous verbal flatulence.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    In same mold, former CIA head Woolsey, as well as Clapper and Hayden, have said we only intervene when its for "their own good"

    Got a citation for that one? Because that sure is chilling to read.

  • Rock Lobster||

    Hopefully the next person to punch that SOB Flake in the nose is right handed. Its current leftward tilt is disconcerting.

  • Agammamon||

    heh. like we helped Iraq have elections. and Afghanistan. and libya. and korea. and vietnam. and Iran. and basically all of south and central America.

  • Sevo||

    "Flake publically rebuked Rand Paul's statement that US has interfered in over 80 elections, based on a peer reviewed study. He said US only intervenes to "help people have elections"."

    Actually, he 'mis-spoke'. He was referring to that great US IT site "pornhub": they make sure there is no lack of eretions.

  • Rockabilly||

    Man, you're very uptight.

    It's summer, have a refreshing beverage and smoke a doobie.

    I always listen to music on the youtube, it just goes from one video to another, random.

    The youtube guesses what I want to hear, so I just let it do it's thing.

    Right now the youtube knows I want to hear.

    The Gods of Rock and Roll.

    Led Zeppelin = Live.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-7CYe6qojb4

  • Ecoli||

    Flake news.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    "The president let down the free world by giving aid and comfort to an enemy of democracy," he said.

    In fairness, "enemy of democracy" could be referencing anyone in DC.

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    If Jeffrey Dahmer accused an innocent person of being a depraved murderer, that would be a vile accusation.

    But if one were to describe Mr. Dahmer as a depraved murder . . .

    Mr. Setyon and the headline's author should be taking notes.

  • Sevo||

    Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland|7.19.18 @ 8:28PM|#
    "If Jeffrey Dahmer .................................."

    If this asshole ever posted anything worth reading, it would be a surprise.

  • BestUsedCarSales||

    I don't know if that's really more particularly vile than any accusation against an innocent.

  • Derp-o-Matic 6000||

    Isn't he the douchebag who is "retiring" because he didn't want to get primaried? Who gives a shit what he says?

  • Rev. Arthur L. Kirkland||

    I sensed he retired because he was unwilling to invest in the Republicans' hard turn toward bigotry and amateurish ignorance and was unimpressed by the average Republican senator's level of courage.

  • Sevo||

    You "sensed" something?
    Maybe you ought to learn "thinking"; you might not be such a fucking ignoramus.

  • Nardz||

    On the other hand, I'm quite impressed with Rev Intellectual Eunuch's level of insecurity

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