AG’s Office and Democratic institutions stand by comment; Republicans push against it.
At Michigan’s Democratic Nominating Convention on August 29, Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel kicked off her speech by comparing President Donald Trump to Adolf Hitler, before joking: “Hitler, by all accounts, could read and write … and he also was brave enough to serve in his nation’s military,” according to Gongwer reporter Jordyn Hermani, who was present at the event.
AG Dana Nessel kicking off her Democratic Nominating Convention by comparing President Trump to Adolf Hitler, before joking: "Hitler, by all accounts, could read and write … and he also was brave enough to serve in his nation's military."
— Jordyn Hermani (@JordynHermani) August 29, 2020
The event is Michigan’s version of the Democratic National Convention, where they nominate candidates for certain positions such as the State Board of Education and University Boards; caucus; and talk up the importance of voting blue.
Hermani made a follow-up tweet providing a little more context, an hour later:
“Her lead up to the statement was that neither had received the popular vote and yet still took office, denigrates immigrants, seeks to destroy unions, degrades those who disagree with them, etc. and then said she wasn’t talking about Trump but Hitler,” the tweet read.
Nessel, a Democrat, defeated Republican Tom Leonard and three other candidates in the 2018 Michigan Attorney General election, and is the first Jew to be elected Attorney General of Michigan.
The AG’s office defended Nessel’s comments in a statement to the JN from Communications Director Kelly Rossman-McKinney.
“AG Nessel is passionate about this election and deeply concerned about the direction of our country under the current president,” the statement read. “The president’s actions — with the addition of the pomp and circumstance at the White House recently — was reminiscent of a certain historical figure and she chose to point that out after doing an extensive, careful and accurate historical comparison that resulted in a very long list of similarities. People deserve to know who they are voting for.”
Michigan Republican Party Chair Laura Cox harshly criticized Nessel’s comments in a statement provided to JN.
“Not only is comparing President Trump to a man who murdered 10 million innocent people totally insane, but to go as far as glorifying Hitler by praising his intelligence and calling him brave, makes me sick to my stomach,” Cox said. “Dana Nessel has proved yet again to be an embarrassment to Michigan, its citizens, and its laws.”
Neil Strauss, communications director for the Republican Jewish Coalition, also took strong issue with Nessel’s comments.
“Dana Nessel is trafficking in Holocaust denial, plain and simple,” Strauss said. “She isn’t edgy, funny, or profound. What she is, is dead wrong when it comes to this comparison.
“This goes to show that Democrats have no real argument against President Trump, so they will continue to throw absurd statements out, and depend on not being called out for them. Nessel is a disgrace to herself, her constituents and anyone who has taken the time to learn about the horrors of the Holocaust — she is clearly ignorant on the subject.”
Trump has attacked Nessel in the past, as well, including in two tweets on May 21, calling her “wacky” and “do-nothing” in response to Nessel’s criticisms of Ford Motor Company for not mandating that Trump wear a mask during a plant visit.
Noah Arbit, Chair of the Michigan Democratic Jewish Caucus, defended Nessel as well.
“While AG Nessel’s sardonic style of humor may or may not suit everyone’s individual tastes, unlike Donald Trump, Dana knows a thing or two about history, and actively works to protect our community from antisemitism and violence, not inflame it,” Arbit said.
“As a proud Jewish woman, AG Nessel has spoken movingly about the historical reverberations of many of the Trump administration’s most heinous acts, including obscene demagoguery and the persecution of minority groups and political opponents, which characterized Nazi Germany. Jewish Michiganders know that Dana Nessel stands with us against the most antisemitic president since Richard Nixon.”