Trump 'taking us down road to tyranny', says former defence secretary

‘I think we would not recognise America as a democracy’

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Tuesday 23 June 2020 22:37 BST
William Cohen says he fears a Trump re-election

Former Secretary of Defence William Cohen says that after learning of the revelations in John Bolton’s book, the prospect of Donald Trump being reelected makes him fear for US democracy.

Asked by CNN’s Christiane Amanpour what he expected if there were to be a second Trump administration, the forrmer secretary responded: “I think we would not recognise America as a democracy.”

Mr Cohen, a Republican that ran the Department of Defence under Bill Clinton, said: “I think he wants to have one man rule, and it’s not the rule of law, it’s just the opposite. It’s the law of rule, where he only can make decisions.”

He added that the president has said publicly on multiple occasions that he is above the law — that it doesn’t apply to him as the chief law enforcer and commander in chief.

“If you take away an obligation to run for re-election, now he has authority to do whatever he wants, because now he feels he’s not even bound by the law,” says the former secretary of defence.”

Mr Cohen bluntly paints a frightening picture of dictatorial, absolutist rule: “I think President Trump is taking us down the road to tyranny — to one man rule. To try and replicate what he sees as a positive in Moscow under President Putin, or in Turkey under President Erdogan, or in China, or North Korea,”

A growing number of senior Republican figures have been speaking out against the president as the election draws nearer, decrying the failures of the administration, particularly in relation to the coronavirus pandemic response.

Mr Cohen was defence secretary in Bill Clinton’s second administration, from 1997 to 2001. From 1973 to 1979 he served as a congressman for Maine, and from 1979 to 1997 as a senator for the state.

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