House majority whip Jim Clyburn, the No 3 Democrat in the chamber who is a close ally of Speaker Nancy Pelosi and 2020 presidential nominee Joe Biden, made the comments in an interview with CNN on Sunday while describing what he feels is the president's dictatorial, anti-democratic tendencies.
“I don’t think he plans to leave the White House. He doesn’t plan to have fair and unfettered elections. I believe that he plans to instal himself in some kind of emergency way to continue to hold onto office,” Mr Clyburn said, alluding to Mr Trump's threat last week to postpone the 2020 election over concerns about fraudulent mail-in ballots.
"I feel very strongly that he is Mussolini, Putin is Hitler," Mr Clyburn said, referring to the respective fascist dictators of Italy and Germany whose aggression in Europe precipitated World War II.
"The American people better wake up," Mr Clyburn said.
The president sent a shock wave through the political world last week with a tweet about postponing the election, something that has never been done in the US, even through periods of civil and existential war.
After making the baseless claim that states’ use of vote-by-mail will make November’s election — which he is losing by a substantial margin, per most reputable polls — “the most inaccurate and fraudulent” vote in American history and “a great embarrassment”, the president suggested delaying it “until people can properly, securely and safely vote”.
Mr Trump cannot unilaterally push back the election from 3 November, as only Congress holds that power.
Republicans on Capitol Hill roundly dismissed the president's concerns about an authentic election and said they would take place as scheduled.
“He can suggest whatever he wants. The law is what it is. We’re going to have an election that’s legitimate, it’s going to be credible, it’s going to be the same as we’ve always done it,” Senate intelligence chairman Marco Rubio told reporters.
Democrats have suggested, meanwhile, that Mr Trump made his pronouncement as a desperate attempt to distract from Americans' dissatisfaction over his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Nearly six of every 10 Americans disapprove of how their president has handled the health crisis, while just 37.6 per cent approve, according to polling data tracked by FiveThirtyEight.
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