Monday on CNN’s “The Lead,” Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) apparently likened President Donald Trump’s tweets, speeches and policies to “doublespeak” from George Orwell’s “1984.”
Partial transcript as follows:
TAPPER: Joining me now is Senator Pat Leahy of Vermont, former Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee and a Democrat. Thank you for joining us. I want to play something for you the president said at CENTCOM.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
TRUMP: We’ve seen what happened in Paris and Nice, all over Europe. It’s happening. It’s gotten to a point where it’s not even being reported, and in many cases, the very, very dishonest press doesn’t want to report it. They have their reasons, and you understand that.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
TAPPER: Senator, I know you’re not a spokesman for the Trump White House but I am wondering, do you have any idea what he’s talking about?
LEAHY: I have no idea. I think I’m going to go back and reread George Orwell. This kind of doublespeak makes no sense at all. Look what the president has done. He has made it very clear he doesn’t want Muslims in our country. He issues an executive order that is so broad on its face, we could be blocking people from virtually any country, including just tourists coming into the United States. He tells a federal judge — or tells the country this federal judge disagrees with me, he is obviously not a valid federal judge. He said the same thing about another judge who found that he had been involved in business dealings he should not have been involved in. In other words, if you agree with him, you’re valid. If you disagree with him, you’re invalid. And then he doubled down this weekend, basically equating Putin’s Russia as a moral equivalency with the United States of America. I don’t know how anybody, Republican or Democrat, could accept that. Bill O’Reilly, to his credit, raised Putin and what he does, a man who has ordered assassinations, has had members of the press assassinated, political rivals assassinated, has stolen tens of billions of dollars from his country, and he says that’s equivalent to the United States? No, it is not.
TAPPER: The tweet about James Robart in which he called him a so-called judge. I have talked to people who defend Trump and say this is just him insulting a judge. It’s no big deal. You disagree?
LEAHY: It’s a huge deal. To use his words. It’s a huge deal. I’ll tell you why. We have three branches of government. One of the reasons our democracy is now the oldest existing democracy in the world is because we have checks and balances between the legislative branch, judicial branch and executive branch. Every single president — I have been here since President Ford — whether they agree or disagree with a court order, they say, okay, it’s got to be upheld. That’s what we do. We have never had a president, of either party, try to undercut and lower the moral authority of our federal courts. It’s just never been done. And I have had a lot of Republican senators say this goes beyond the pale.
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