CNN political analyst and former Clinton White House press secretary Joe Lockhart said Wednesday during his network’s coverage of the Senate impeachment trial that the argument in defense of President Donald Trump from Alan Dershowitz was “what you hear” from authoritarian leaders like Joseph Stalin, Benito Mussolini, and Adolf Hitler.
Dershowitz argued earlier that if the president does something which he believes will get him elected in the public interest, that is not impeachable.
Lockhart said, “Having worked on about a dozen campaigns, there is always the sense that, ‘Boy, if we win, it’s better for the country. But that doesn’t give you license to commit crimes or to do things that are unethical. So, it was absurd. And what I thought when I was watching it was, this is un-American. This is what you hear from Stalin. This is what you hear from Mussolini, what you hear from Hitler, all the authoritarian people who rationalized, in some cases, genocide, based on what was in the public interest. It was a startling — and I still can’t believe he went on the floor of the Senate and made that argument.”
Former advisor to Mitch McConnell, Scott Jennings, said, “I have to respond to something that my friend Joe said. I’m not there to elbow him in the ribs. I don’t think it’s appropriate, frankly, to compare the president of the United States to Stalin Mussolini, Hitler. I don’t think anything this president’s done, the Democrats have done, either legal teams have done rises to the level of Stalin, Hitler, and people who commit genocide. I think that, to me, is not a proper comparison honestly.”
Lockhart said, “That is not the comparison I made I didn’t compare the president. I said that argument, that rationalization is exactly the rationalization that these authoritarian dictators make, which is we will do these things because, ‘Yes, they’re in my interest, but it’s in the public interest. So, again, you know, I learned long ago not to disparage people without the receipts. So, Scott’s right. You shouldn’t compare the president to any of those people, but I didn’t. I compared the argument. And what’s shocking about it is that Alan Dershowitz made it on the floor of the Senate. Again, if I had inadvertently compared Trump to any of those people, Scott, I would say ‘I got it wrong, I apologize.’ I didn’t get this wrong, because it is that argument that’s so dangerous that you can commit any act as long as, in your head, you believe it’s good for the country.”
He added, “Our political system would literally break down because you would have 535 lawless people all using the argument that ‘I’m good for my constituents, so I’m going to go…’ or a president saying ‘I’m running against — this guy is blocking my legislation, I’m going to get the IRS to audit their taxes because the legislation is good for the country.’ We can’t have that.”
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