The third-highest-ranking Democrat in the House compared the political climate in Germany under Adolf Hitler to America’s during Donald Trump’s presidency.
House Whip James E. Clyburn (S.C.), in an interview with NBC News on Tuesday, said Trump and his family “are the greatest threats to democracy of my lifetime.”
Clyburn said he’s never seen a political climate like the one now, but that he’d studied them. After Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany “he went about the business of discrediting institutions to the point that people bought into it,” he said.
He mentioned how Trump has tried to discredit the media, other institutions and popular politicians like the late senator John McCain.
“We had better be very careful,” Clyburn said.
This is not the first time in recent weeks Clyburn invoked Nazi Germany. During an interview after the broad condemnation of Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) over comments she made about Israel that many interpreted as anti-Semitic, Clyburn defended her and said her experience as a refugee is “more personal” than that of children of Holocaust survivors.
Clyburn was then admonished for seeming to diminish the Holocaust. The congressman later clarified that he was drawing a contrast between people who had experienced firsthand a historical atrocity and the pain she lives with.
Another powerful Democrat used European history as a parallel to Trump’s rhetoric. At a town hall in New York, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Jerrold Nadler said the way Trump talks about immigrants who cross the southern border is akin to the propaganda used against Jews in the 1920s and World War I.
“ ‘Jews are Bolsheviks. Jews are thieves. Jews are violent’ — that was the propaganda. And we were that against the Irish early. Now, we’re hearing it against this generation’s immigrants — and it’s just as false now,” Nadler said.
Nadler also said the president’s use of executive order to build his border wall “is making the president a dictator, and that’s a far greater risk to our government and to our freedom than almost anything else that’s going on.”
Clyburn was not the first member of Congress to compare Trump to Hitler.
In January, Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) said what amounts to a combination of Clyburn’s and Nadler’s comments.
Hitler “rode a wave of nationalism and anti-Semitism to power. Replace anti-Semitism with ‘all Latinos crossing our borders are rapists, drug dealers and murderers.’ Does that sound familiar?” Johnson asked.
Johnson warned that Americans can’t risk “the harm that could be done by a man named Hitler or a man named Trump.”