Two powerful House Democrats have invoked Adolf Hitler’s actions in Germany and the treatment of Jews during World War I and in the 1920s to warn against the direction the US is moving in, with both saying Donald Trump’s presidency presents an unprecedented threat to democracy.
House Whip James Clyburn’s comments came in a Tuesday interview with NBC News in which he noted that he previously cited the rise of Hitler while discussing America’s political climate, according to the outlet.
“Adolf Hitler was elected chancellor of Germany. And he went about the business of discrediting institutions to the point that people bought into” it,” the South Carolina congressman said, according to NBC. “Nobody would have believed it now. But swastikas hung in churches throughout Germany. We had better be very careful.”
Clyburn’s colleague, House Judiciary Chairman Jerry Nadler, made his comments at a Tuesday night town hall in New York in which he compared Trump’s rhetoric toward immigrants to propaganda against Jews.
“You’ve heard the President and the administration say that immigrants are thieves, that they bring in drugs, that they’re responsible for lots of crime, that they’re – a crisis at our border, they’re bringing in drugs and crime,” said Nadler, who represents New York.
He continued: “This is the same type of propaganda that we heard in the 1920s and World War I against Jews. ‘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.”
CNN has reached out to the White House for response to the lawmakers’ comments and has not immediately received a response.
Both lawmakers also said Trump is presenting an enormous threat to democracy, with Clyburn warning in his interview that the US is “asking for dire consequences,” according to NBC.
“And I think it’s time for the Congress – House and Senate – to grow spines, and do what is necessary to protect this democracy. This man and his family are the greatest threats to democracy of my lifetime,” Clyburn said, according to NBC.
At his town hall, Nadler said the President’s use of his emergency powers to declare a national emergency along the Southern border was dictatorial.
“For the President to go around Congress and say ‘you don’t agree there’s an emergency, I think there’s an emergency, we’re going to spend the money that you said no you won’t spend’ is upending democratic government, 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,” Nadler said.
NBC also said that in his interview, Clyburn stopped short of blindly supporting the idea of impeaching Trump, instead saying the House investigations into the President should be able to continue.
“I think all of us know that impeachment is a political concept. And if the committees do their work properly they will be able to bring the public along with them,” Clyburn said, according to NBC. “They will be able to set the tone for impeachment if that is deserved.”
CNN’s Ashley Killough, Sunlen Serfaty, Savannah Behrmann and Jeremy Diamond contributed to this report.