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Donald Trump says Joe Biden is running a ‘Gestapo’ administration, his latest reference to Nazi Germany

WorldDonald Trump says Joe Biden is running a ‘Gestapo’ administration, his latest reference to Nazi Germany

The Gestapo was the secret police force of the Third Reich that squelched political opposition generally and, specifically, targeted Jewish people for arrest during the Holocaust.

Donald Trump at his Mar-a-Lago estate in Palm Beach, Florida, last month. File photo: AFP

Republican Governor Doug Burgum of North Dakota, appearing on Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, essentially confirmed Trump’s statement, but tried to diminish its importance.

“This was a short comment deep into the thing that wasn’t really central to what he was talking about,” said Burgum, who is among the contenders to be Trump’s running mate.

Burgum affirmed that Trump drew the parallel as part of his accusation that Biden’s White House is behind his legal troubles. “A majority of Americans,” Burgum said, “feel like the trial that he’s in right now is politically motivated.”

The New York Times first reported Trump’s comments after obtaining an audio recording of the Mar-a-Lago event.

“These people are running a Gestapo administration,” Trump told Republican donors, according to the newspaper. “It’s the only way they’re going to win.”

Biden’s re-election campaign blasted the reference.

“Trump is once again making despicable and insulting comments about the Holocaust, while in the same breath attacking law enforcement, celebrating political violence, and threatening our democracy,” said James Singer, spokesman for the Democrat’s campaign, in a statement.

Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to an Associated Press request for comment. Associated Press has not obtained audio of Trump’s speech at the fundraiser.

Donald Trump’s Mar-a-Lago home in Palm Beach, Florida. Photo: AP

Previously in the 2024 campaign, Trump has called political opponents “vermin” and said migrants who cross the US-Mexico border are “poisoning the blood of our country”, rhetoric that echoes Adolf Hitler’s statements during his authoritarian rule of Germany.

“I know nothing about Hitler,” Trump insisted in a December interview on conservative talk radio. “I have no idea what Hitler said other than [what] I’ve seen on the news. And that’s a very, entirely different thing than what I’m saying.”

A second person who was at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend described to Associated Press a stem-winding lunch appearance in which Trump mixed his grievances with optimistic Republican cheerleading.

Speaking for at least 90 minutes, Trump promised “the gloves are coming off” against Biden, the second Republican recalled. At another point, Trump called up several Republican congressional figures to the stage and referred to the many Republicans vying to be his vice-presidential pick.

“They’re lining up and begging,” Trump said, according to one attendee.

Several presumed contenders circulated in the crowd and were given strategic speaking roles or lead panel discussions. Among the stand-outs, the Republican said, were Republican Senators Tim Scott of South Carolina, Marco Rubio of Florida and JD Vance of Ohio.
A courtroom sketch of Donald Trump during his hush money trial. Photo: Reuters

Trump, the person said, singled out Rubio for special praise and referenced a “Florida problem”, referring to a constitutional requirement that the president and vice-president not claim the same state as their residences.

Rubio and Scott both demurred when asked about their prospects on the Sunday talk shows.

On Fox News Sunday, Rubio sidestepped a question about whether he would be willing to move to another state to join the Republican ticket.

House Speaker Mike Johnson was also there, shoring up support from Trump. Johnson coordinated one of the legal challenges against the 2020 election that Trump lost to Biden, but the speaker now faces the threat of his own ousting by far-right Republicans led by congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene of Georgia.

With his time on stage, Johnson said the US needs a “strong man” in the White House, one attendee told Associated Press.

The Republican National Committee said after the event that joint fundraising efforts by the RNC and the campaign for April topped US$76 million, by far the best monthly effort of this campaign cycle and a step towards closing Biden’s financial advantage.

RNC Chairman Michael Whatley hailed an uptick in small-dollar donors, but the Mar-a-Lago event clearly focused on the party’s deepest pockets. At one point, one attendee said, Trump offered an open microphone to anyone who immediately pledged a US$1 million contribution to the party. Two people eventually agreed, the source said.

Additionally, the Times reported that Trump told his audience that Democrats effectively buy votes through economic safety net programmes, while repeating his false claims that US elections are riddled with systemic fraud.

“When you are Democrat, you start off essentially at 40 per cent because you have civil service, you have the unions and you have welfare,” Trump said, according to the Times. “And don’t underestimate welfare. They get welfare to vote, and then they cheat on top of that – they cheat.”

Biden’s victory was affirmed by multiple recounts across many battleground states, and Trump’s assertions of fraud were rejected by multiple state and federal courts, including by judges he nominated to the bench. Trump’s efforts to overturn the election and his role in his supporters’ riot at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, are the subject of two additional indictments.

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