White House bashes 'self-avowed socialist' Bernie Sanders as 'ridiculous' for calling Trump an authoritarian

Aaron P. Bernstein/Getty ImagesThe White House on Tuesday said it was ‘grossly insulting’ for Sen. Bernie Sanders to refer to President Donald Trump as an ‘authoritarian leader.’
  • The White House on Tuesday slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders as “ridiculous” for referring to President Donald Trump as an “authoritarian leader.”
  • White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley on Tuesday told INSIDER the Vermont senator’s comments the day prior were “grossly insulting,” particularly because they came on Veterans Day.
  • Sanders on Monday said the “simple truth” is Trump is an “authoritarian leader” who does not care about democracy.

The White House on Tuesday slammed Sen. Bernie Sanders as “ridiculous” for referring to President Donald Trump as an “authoritarian leader.”

Sanders on Monday said the “simple truth” is Trump is an “authoritarian leader” who does not care about democracy.

“Here is the simple truth. Donald Trump, like his friends in Russia, Saudi Arabia and North Korea, is an authoritarian leader who does not believe in democracy,” Sanders tweeted. This came as the president made baseless claims of voter fraud in Florida amid a recount in three key races linked to the 2018 midterms.


Read more: Trump says ‘honest’ election no longer possible in Florida, demands election be called for Republicans

White House deputy press secretary Hogan Gidley on Tuesday told INSIDER the Vermont senator’s comments the day prior were “grossly insulting,” particularly because they came on Veterans Day.

“For a self-avowed socialist like Bernie Sanders who would love America to look like Venezuela, to call the President authoritarian is not only ridiculous, it’s grossly insulting to do on Veterans Day, a time of national remembrance for those who fought defending American democracy,” Gidley said.


Read more: Bernie Sanders says the ‘simple truth’ is Trump is an ‘authoritarian leader,’ and several experts tell INSIDER they largely agree

Sanders is not entirely alone, however, in his assessment of Trump. Several experts on Monday told INSIDER it’s not unfair to say the president has strong authoritarian tendencies, though some noted the structure of America’s political system does not allow for full-blown authoritarianism.

“I think it is fair to characterise Donald Trump as an authoritarian leader constrained, for now, by a liberal democratic system,” Cas Mudde, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who is an expert in populism, extremism, and democracy, told INSIDER.

Mudde added, “From his various statements, and preference for rule by executive decree, it is clear that Trump does not like the constraints of politics of compromise, between institutions and parties.”

Sen. Sanders’ office did not immediately respond to a request for comment from INSIDER.

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