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Flake: Trump’s Russian investigation ‘hoax’ claim is a falsehood

PHOENIX — U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) criticized President Donald Trump on Wednesday for calling Russian interference in the 2016 election a hoax.

“To be very clear: To call the Russian matter a hoax as the president has done so many times, it is a falsehood,” Flake said during a speech on the Senate floor. “We know the attacks orchestrated by the Russian government during the election were real.”

Related: Flake says ‘fake news’ could damage US | Full speech text, video

Flake said the attacks represented “a real threat to American sovereignty and to our national security” and it was in the best interest of the country to find out exactly what happened.

“Ignoring or denying the truth about hostile Russian intentions toward the United States leaves us vulnerable to future attacks,” he said.

Flake’s words came during a 15-minute speech that criticized Trump’s repeated use of terms such as “fake news” and attacks on the media.

He said the president has been spouting untruths since he stepped into office. Some — such as the claims that his inauguration crowd size was the biggest ever — were trivial, while others were not.

“Some untruths are not at all trivial, such as the seminal untruth of the president’s political career: The oft-repeated conspiracy about the birthplace of President (Barack) Obama,” he said.

“Also not trivial are the equally pernicious fantasies about rigged elections and massive voter fraud, which are as destructive as they are inaccurate. To the effort to undermine confidence in the federal courts, federal law enforcement, the intelligence community to the free press, to perhaps the most vexing untruth of all: The supposed hoax at the heart of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s Russia investigation.”

The senator said the investigation has become background noise in Washington, D.C. because the White House did not seem to be taking the matter seriously.

“We are told by our intelligence agencies that these attacks are ongoing, yet it recently has been reported that there has not been a single Cabinet-level meeting regarding Russian interference and how to defend American against these attacks,” Flake said.

“What might seem like a casual and routine untruth — so casual and routine that it has, by now, become the white noise of Washington — is, in fact, a serious lapse in the defense of our country.”

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