'This is sickening': GOP Sen. Jeff Flake assails Donald Trump Jr. for Instagram post mocking sexual assault

  • Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on Wednesday decried a social media post by the president's eldest son, Donald Trump, Jr. which mocked sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.
  • "This is sickening," Flake said of the post, in which Trump Jr. ridiculed the serious allegations, equating Ford's allegation of a violent attempted rape with a childhood crush.
  • The retiring senator's decision to publicly rebuke the president's son underscores the near diametrically opposite roles that Flake and Trump Jr. have established for themselves within the Republican party.
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) 
Brendan Smialowski | AFP | Getty Images
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-AZ) 

Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., on Wednesday decried a social media post by the president's eldest son, Donald Trump Jr., which mocked sexual assault allegations against Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh.

"This is sickening," Flake wrote on Twitter. "No one should make light of this situation."

On Sunday, the 40 year-old Trump Jr. posted a photo on Instagram which he sarcastically claimed was a copy of the letter that professor Christine Blasey Ford sent to Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., in July.

In it, Ford alleged that Kavanaugh had sexually assaulted her when they were teenagers. Ford later described to The Washington Post what she said was a violent attempted rape by Kavanaugh.

Trump Jr. ridiculed the allegation. "Oh boy... the Dems and their usual nonsense games really have him on the ropes now. Finestein [sic] had the letter in July and saved it for the eve of his vote... honorable as always. I believe this is a copy for full transparency," he wrote.

But instead of posting a letter, Trump Jr. posted an internet meme of a crumpled up love note from a boy named "Bret" to a girl named "Cindy." The photo is titled "Judge Kavanaughs sexual assault letter found by Dems."

Trump Jr.'s Instagram post was met with swift, harsh criticism from users on the social media platform. But as of Wednesday, Flake was alone among his Republican Senate colleagues in publicly rebuking Trump Jr. over it.

The retiring senator's decision to publicly rebuke the president's son underscored the near diametrically opposite roles that Flake and Trump Jr. have carved out for themselves within the Republican party.

In the nearly two years since the elder Donald Trump took office, Flake has evolved into the president's harshest and most vocal Republican critic in Congress. Flake has frequently said he believes Trump poses a danger to American democracy, and he believes he must confront the president "as a matter of duty and conscience."

While Flake has become a standard bearer for the Republican opposition to Trump, the president's son has gone in a very different direction, by embracing some of the most controversial, conspiratorial and at times, offensive views heralded by his father's supporters on the far-right.

In 2016, Trump Jr. made headlines when he used Twitter to suggest that granting Syrian refugees asylum in the U.S. was equivalent to eating from a bowl of poisoned Skittles candy. "If I had a bowl of Skittles, and I told you just three would kill you, would you take a handful?" he wrote.

In recent months, Trump Jr. has used his huge social media reach to falsely attack CNN journalist Anderson Cooper, to compare the Democratic party to the Nazi party and to share racist tweets from other prominent figures on the right, including former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee.

In the 24 hours between Tuesday and Wednesday evening, Trump Jr. posted 42 tweets and retweets for his 3 million followers. They included attacks on CNN, The New York Times, NBC News and social media companies, all favorite targets of the far-right.

Trump Jr. also shared an opinion column suggesting that billionaire Democratic donor George Soros may be the mastermind behind Blasey Ford's allegations.

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