Forget the Hitler Comparison, Now MSNBC Thinks Trump Is ‘Benedict Arnold’

October 27th, 2020 4:05 PM

In the spirit of MSNBC’s rabid leftism, Joe Scarborough had a guest on Monday’s Morning Joe who was so out-of-touch that it was hard to watch. Former Foreign Policy magazine editor David Rothkopf was given almost ten minutes of airtime to promote his unhinged new book, Traitor: A History of American Betrayal From Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump.

The premise of the book, clearly outlined in the title, was so ridiculous that even Scarborough seemed to question it:

Traitor: A History of American Betrayal From Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump.SCARBOROUGH: Talk about the title. Very provocative title. Would you really put Donald Trump in Benedict Arnold’s category?

DAVID ROTHKOPF: I would, because the issue is, um, has the president betrayed the country? (…) And we have to ask ourselves with Donald Trump something we have not had to ask ourselves with any president, which is, ‘Has he upheld his oath of office? Has he preserved, protect and defended the Constitution?’ The dictionary definition of ‘traitor’ is to betray your country. He started out by reaching out to our enemies, meeting with them frequently, and ultimately defending them and rewarding them and you saw it in the clip that you just ran. The President of the United States said he was spied on. It's not just a lie. The people he is talking about were defending the country and he's trying to spin it that they were the ones that were wrong for looking into his ties to a foreign enemy and how he sought to undermine democracy.

Wow! Not only is Donald Trump the worst president ever, but he’s allegedly on par with the most infamous traitor in American history. The assertion that Trump is a traitor is, of course, based on a handful of accusations that have gone unsubstantiated for his entire first term. But apparently, we were safer and more patriotic with a president who traveled the world on an apology tour.

Unsurprisingly, Associated Press reporter Jonathan Lemire compared Trump to President Richard Nixon, and reminded Rothkopf that Nixon was pardoned by President Ford. Fantasizing about a grim future for Trump under a Biden presidency, he inquired:

My question to you is, obviously, if Donald Trump is not president anymore, that means most likely Joe Biden is. Not of the same party. What should happen next? Do you believe it would be good for the country for a series of investigations, criminal and otherwise, into Donald Trump? What sort of role, if any, should Joe Biden have? What sort of rhetoric and approach should Joe Biden take if this were to happen?

Rothkopf clarified that this type of situation happens all the time:

I think you bring up another excellent point. You know, Richard Nixon was pardoned. Uh, the Iran contra figures were pardoned. Uh, Barack Obama made the decision not to pursue or investigate torture and other abuses of international law by the Bush administration… if you want to restore democracy, then you have to hold them accountable. You have to prove that if you obstruct justice, if you place yourself above the law, you are going to be investigated fairly, and based on the facts you are going to be held accountable.



Scarborough didn’t object to any of these ideas, but he did want to make sure that Biden wouldn’t suffer the same fate:

How do we hold Donald Trump accountable without sending a message to future presidents that if you lose, you are going to be facing charges the types of which, of course, Gerald Ford pardoned for Richard Nixon, but also the types of which people were pressing in 2009 for Barack Obama to pursue against George W. Bush?

Of course. The Democrats need to hold President Trump accountable for all of the crimes he’s responsible for, like imposing protectionist tariffs, trying to get rid of net neutrality, and appointing Justice Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. But in making the ridiculous comparison of Trump to Benedict Arnold, Rothkopf just took the cake from the Lincoln Project’s ad that compared him to criminals in a failed attempt to assassinate President Lincoln.

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Here's the transcript:

Morning Joe


8:41:37 AM

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Let’s bring in right now author David Rothkopf, he has a new book called Traitor. A history of American betrayal from Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump. Very provocative title. David Rothkopf was deputy editor under secretary of commerce in the Clinton administration and has taught at Johns Hopkins, Columbia University, and Georgetown. David, thank you so much for being with us. Talk about the title. Very provocative title. Traitor: A History of American Betrayal From Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump. Would you really put Donald Trump in Benedict Arnold's category? 

DAVID ROTHKOPF [AUTHOR, TRAITOR]: I would, because the issue is, um, has the president betrayed the country? You know, usually at this time you get to an election, it’s four years in, you say, ‘are you better off now than you were when you started out?’ or ‘what policy issues do you agree or disagree with?’ But you know the Presidency begins with an oath. Uh, it begins with a promise to the American people to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution. Kind of issues you were just talking about. And we have to ask ourselves with Donald Trump something we have not had to ask ourselves with any president, which is, ‘has he upheld his oath of office? Has he preserved, protect and defended the Constitution?’ The dictionary definition of ‘traitor’ is to betray your country. He started out by reaching out to our enemies, meeting with them frequently, and ultimately defending them and rewarding them and you saw it in the clip that you just ran. The President of the United States said he was spied on. It's not just a lie. The people he is talking about were defending the country and he's trying to spin it that they were the ones that were wrong for looking into his ties to a foreign enemy and how he sought to undermine democracy. And if you look at his presidency from beginning to end, whether it's Russia or whether it's serving himself and enriching himself or whether it's putting himself before the country and dealing with COVID, it's one betrayal after another. It's one failure to uphold his sacred oath after another. 

SCARBOROUGH: Katty Kay is with us and has a question. Katty?

KATTY KAY: Um, yeah, I was wondering what you thought about young people and democracy and this notion of betrayal and whether they feel it's not just about Donald Trump, but that democracy itself looks increasingly flawed. I think there was a story in The New York Times in the last day or two about this notion that they feel a whole system in a sense has let them down, betrayed them, and how do you reinvigorate the purpose of democracy in this climate? 

ROTHKOPF: Well, I think you put your finger on a really important point because I think the next president is going to have a real job of work that no prior president has had, which is, ‘how do you restore faith in American democracy?’ Among our voters first, but also among countries around the world. For the past 75 years, we have been out there as a champion of democracy and also as an illustration of effective democracy, and now our democracy is a laughing stock, not just because of voter suppression, but because of steps such as the steps taken by Bill Barr and the president to obstruct justice, by sending federal forces into the streets against peaceful protesters. And so all of the things that we said work, don't work. And I think young voters who are being exposed to this for the first time are asking themselves, you know, because all their experience was in the Trump administration, whether this is a fundamentally flawed system and whether it can be repaired. 

SCARBOROUGH: The AP’s Jonathan Lemire is with us and has a question. Jonathan?

JONATHAN LEMIRE: David, of course there’s always been a lot of comparisons between the conduct in office of Donald Trump and Richard Nixon. We know of course that when Nixon resigned, he then was pardoned by his successor of his own party, Gerald Ford. My question to you is, obviously, if Donald Trump is not president anymore, that means most likely Joe Biden is. Not of the same party. What should happen next? Do you believe it would be good for the country for a series of investigations, criminal and otherwise, into Donald Trump? What sort of role, if any, should Joe Biden have? What sort of rhetoric and approach should Joe Biden take if this were to happen? 

ROTHKOPF:  I think you bring up another excellent point. You know, Richard Nixon was pardoned. Uh, the Iran contra figures were pardoned. Uh, Barack Obama made the decision not to pursue or investigate torture and other abuses of international law by the Bush administration. And with each instance of that, things got worse. The window for misbehavior by the president got wider, and now you end up with a President of the United States who, in conjunction with his attorney general and in conjunction with the senate majority, have essentially said I'm above the law. And if you want to do what I was just talking to Katty about, if you want to restore democracy, then you have to hold them accountable. You have to prove that if you obstruct justice, if you place yourself above the law, you are going to be investigated fairly, and based on the facts you are going to be held accountable. And if we don't do that, then we are going to send a message to future generations, the presidents are above the law, that they can collude with foreign enemies to their heart's content, uh that if their, uh senate majority supports them, they effectively can't be impeached, uh and uh there are rules within our- our own department of justice that make justice very unlikely for a sitting president. Well the corollary of a rule that makes it unlikely for a sitting president is that we have an obligation to make it extremely likely for someone post-presidency or there is no justice at all. 

SCARBOROUGH: So, David, um I- I think the Justice Department guidelines saying the president can't be indicted is ridiculous. I think Donald Trump's presidency has shown time and again that our belief that no man is above the law has not applied to Donald Trump, and it's a grave problem. And at the same time I'm very concerned, I'm concerned when I hear you talking about post-presidency arrests and you talked about George W. Bush. I remember when people were calling for George W. Bush to be investigated and possibly tried. I warned that eight years from then Republicans might do that to Barack Obama. And certainly if they had chosen to do that for drone strikes where American citizens were killed, somebody could have decided to bring a charge up there, or bring up other charges in a highly partisan atmosphere. How do we hold Donald Trump accountable without sending a message to future presidents that if you lose, you are going to be facing charges the types of which, of course, Gerald Ford pardoned for Richard Nixon, but also the types of which people were pressing in 2009 for Barack Obama to pursue against George W. Bush?

ROTHKOPF: Well, it's a fine line. I think you begin to walk the fine line in the way that Joe Biden did saying it's not my department of justice, it's the United States Department of Justice. I’m not going to direct it in any way to pursue justice and I don't think political officials should be directing the process. Nonetheless, there are laws, and the laws need to be followed. And the laws need to be followed by everybody, and nobody can be above the law as the president sought to present himself and as Barr and McConnell have effectively made Trump. So, if we want to be a nation of laws and if we want no one to be above the law, then we need fair, impartial, fact-based investigations. And if people have broken the law, they need to be held accountable. And so, you know, we can't err too far in one side or on the other. That's the balance required in a democracy. And so the trial such as any trial that would take place, has to be considered to be above reproach. And the president and the political figures need to stay out of it. But if we ignore it, we open the door to further abuse, and we've seen that happen time and time again over the course of the past 40 years. And we have to ask ourselves, are we willing to live up to the oath that every senior official takes to preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States? 

SCARBOROUGH: The new book is Traitor: A History of American Betrayal From Benedict Arnold to Donald Trump. David Rothkopf, thanks for being with us.