Donald Trump repeatedly bragged that former German Chancellor Angela Merkel had complimented his ability to draw large crowds, possibly unaware that Merkel had been subtly comparing him to former Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler, according to Tired of Winning: Donald Trump and the End of the Grand Old Party, a new book by Jonathan Karl.
According to a review of the book by Politico, Trump glowed under what he felt was praise from Merkel, repeating the statement at least twice to members of Congress.
“She told me that there was only one other political leader who ever got crowds as big as mine,” Trump reportedly said on one occasion. According to Karl the congressman who heard the comment, a Trump ally, refrained from clarifying Merkel’s comment to the former president despite understanding the implied dig and reference to Hitler.
The Trump campaign hit back against the report in a statement to Politico, stating that Karl’s “filth either belongs in the discount bargain bin in the fiction section of the bookstore or should be repurposed as toilet paper.”
The animosity between Trump and Merkel was clear during their overlapping tenures in office. The former president reportedly called Merkel “stupid” during a phone call between the two heads of state, and referred to her as “that bitch Merkel” to his advisers. Merkel publicly criticized many of Trump’s policies during her time in office, including his travel ban on several Muslim-majority countries, his withdrawal from the Paris Climate Accords, and his administration’s blundered response to the Covid-19 pandemic.
Whether Trump understood Merkel was comparing him to Hitler is not clear, but in the past the former president has hinted towards an affinity for the Nazi dictator, and the unquestioned authority held by various dictators, who he regularly lavishes praise on.
In the 90s, Trump’s first wife Ivana Trump told her lawyer that the former president kept a copy of Hitler’s speeches in a cabinet beside his bed, and read them from time to time. The detail was reported later in Vanity Fair.
In 2021, The Wall Street Journal’s Michael Bender reported in his book Frankly, We Did Win This Election that Trump had told former Chief of Staff John Kelly that “Hitler did a lot of good things.” In another instance, Trump allegedly told Kelly that his generals should “be like the German generals […] in World War II.”
“You do know that [the generals] tried to kill Hitler three times and almost pulled it off?” Kelly reportedly countered, to which Trump replied, “No, no, no, they were totally loyal to him.”
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