Reprinted with permission from AlterNet.
Two-time Academy Award winner Robert De Niro unloaded on Donald Trump in a scathing interview published Sunday by the Guardian, calling the president both a white supremacist and a “buffoon.”
De Niro said that when Trump was originally elected, “I thought, well, OK, let’s see what he does – maybe he’ll change.”
“But he just got worse,” De Niro explained. “It showed me that he is a real racist. I thought maybe as a New Yorker he understands the diversity in the city but he’s as bad as I thought he was before – and much worse. It’s a shame. It’s a bad thing in this country.”
Describing Trump as a white supremacist, De Niro mused that the president could also qualify as a fascist.
“That’s what it leads to,” De Niro said. “If he had his way, we’d wind up in a very bad state in this country. I mean, the way I understand it, they laughed at Hitler. They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny.”
De Niro also recalled Trump’s attack on former personal attorney Michael Cohen, who the president described as a “rat” for cooperating with federal investigators.
“I mean, a mob boss calls people ‘a rat,’” De Niro—who played Al Capone in the 1987 film “The Untouchables”—explained. “That means you lied and somebody snitched on you, so you did commit the crime.”
“So that’s interesting and he makes mobsters look bad because there are mobsters who will shake your hand and keep their word,” the actor continued. “He can’t even do that.”
“[Trump’s] a con artist,” he added. “He’s a huckster. He’s a scam artist. And what bothers me is that people don’t see that. I think that ‘The Apprentice’ had a lot to do with that, which I never saw but once, maybe. It’s all smoke and mirrors, it’s all bullshit.”
De Niro, who, the Guardian notes, “has some things in common” with Trump, said he “never had an interest in meeting” the president, adding he has no interest in playing the president as a character “ever.”
“He’s a buffoon,” the actor declared, later adding that he has “so little sympathy” for what Trump has done.
“I always say every person has a story that’s interesting,” De Niro explained. “It’s how you tell it. And of course his ‘how you tell it’ would be interesting, too, but I’ve not seen one moment of reflection from him, ever. He knows what he is and everything he says negative about people or things is really a projection of himself.”
“He’s not even evil,” De Niro declared. He’s mundane.”
“The things that Trump has done; if Obama had done one fiftieth, they’d be all over him,” De Niro said, arguing Democrats “have to be more aggressive.”
“You have to fight fire with fire,” De Niro insisted. “You’ve got to say: ‘I’m sorry – let’s call a spade a spade. You are who you are and we’ve got to confront you at your own game and that’s what’s needed.’ You can do it in a nice way but you have to be hard and tough about it.”
“You need somebody who’s strong enough to outmouth him, because that’s all he is—mouth,” De Niro said. “And smart enough and well-informed enough in a debate, say, to override all that nonsense that he does, because basically it’s just name-calling. He has no substance. I don’t know how people fall for it. He’s just a big blowhard. But it ain’t over till it’s over as far as I’m concerned with a guy like him because he’s a dirty player.”