Republican Sen. Jeff Flake’s criticism of Donald Trump has less to do with the president’s stance on the media than with politics, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said on Wednesday.
“He’s not criticizing the president because he’s against oppression,” Sanders said at a daily press briefing. “He’s criticizing the president because he has terrible poll numbers and he is, I think, looking for some attention. I think it’s unfortunate.”
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Flake, a vocal critic of Trump, announced in October that he would not be seeking reelection in 2018 and would instead retire after his current term.
Flake addressed what he called Trump’s “unrelenting daily assault” on the press during a Senate floor speech Wednesday morning, saying that the president’s treatment of the media is “as unprecedented as it is unwarranted.”
Sanders also called Flake’s attack “interesting” given the senator’s recent trip to Cuba.
“I found it quite interesting that he is coming out to attack this president considering he’s one that was recently defending an actually oppressive regime. He went to Cuba a few weeks ago and served as a mouthpiece for the oppressive Cuban government,” she said.
Sanders added that the Trump administration has tried to make itself available to the press.
“Certainly I think our position here at the White House is that we welcome access to the media every day,” she said. “I’m standing right here taking questions. The president does so regularly. And to act as if we’re anything but open to that back and forth exchange is utterly ridiculous.”