McCain says a free press is essential to a healthy democracy

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Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined at right by the committee's ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. (Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite) Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., joined at right by the committee's ranking member, Sen. Jack Reed, D-R.I., speaks on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, Feb. 9, 2017. (Source: AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
(Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photos) (Source: 3TV/CBS 5 file photos)

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sen. John McCain says a free press is vital "to preserve democracy as we know it." And he cautions about efforts to muzzle a free press, saying "that's how dictators get started."

The Arizona senator was asked in an interview for NBC's "Meet the Press" how he felt about President Donald Trump's tweet criticizing "the fake news media" that said "it is the enemy of the American people."

McCain tells "Meet the Press," ''The fact is we need you."

He adds: "When you look at history, the first thing dictators do is shut down the press."

McCain says he isn't saying Trump is trying to be a dictator but "we need to learn the lessons of history."

McCain has had a somewhat contentious relationship with Trump since well before the new president took office.

Earlier this month, McCain criticized an American operation in Yemen that left one Navy SEAL dead and three more wounded. There were civilian casualties, as well.

One day after McCain said that mission was not a success, Trump lashed out at him on Twitter, says such talk "emboldens the enemy."

[RELATED: President Trump slams AZ Sen. John McCain on Twitter]

KPHO/KTVK contributed to this report.

Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.


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