US sliding towards autocracy under Trump, former Russian ambassador warns

Barack Obama’s envoy to Moscow draws comparisons between US president and Vladimir Putin

Chiara Giordano
Saturday 29 August 2020 14:53
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The US is sliding towards an autocracy under Donald Trump, a former Russian ambassador has warned.

Michael McFaul, who was Barack Obama’s envoy to Moscow between 2012 and 2014, claimed there were “a lot of familiar messages, symbols, and methods” of autocracy on display at the Republican National Convention this week.

The political scientist said the White House's "cult of personality", its "blatant disregard for the law", and Mr Trump's references to the opposition as the “enemy of the people” were all signs that American democracy was under threat.

In a series of tweets, Mr McFaul, now a Stanford University professor, also drew comparisons between the US president and Russian president Vladimir Putin.

He accused Mr Trump of having a “blatant disregard for facts”, adding: “As US ambassador to Russia, I found this Putin regime trait most frustrating.”

Mr McFaul compared Mr Trump to “Putin and other autocratic populists” who “cast their opponents as radicals and revolutionaries”.

He said the "one difference” between the two leaders was that “Putin also claims falsely that his political opponents are supported by foreign enemies, the US & the West”.

“Trump has not gone there full-throated yet,” he said. “But my guess it's coming. 'Beijing Biden’ is a hint.”

However, Mr McFaul said Mr Trump outdid the Russian president when it came to “acting like a monarch”, claiming the “many Trump family members who performed” at the convention this week “went beyond even what Putin does”.

The crucial difference between electoral democracies and electoral autocracies, he said, is that it is not known who will win the November US elections.

All of Mr Trump’s four adult children spoke over the three-day convention earlier this week, praising his leadership and appealing for voter support in the November election.

The girlfriend of the president’s son, Donald Trump Jr, even gave a pre-recorded address broadcast on day one.

Kimberly Guilfoyle, a former Fox News host, shouted loudly throughout her address, waving her arms around as she claimed Joe Biden and Kamala Harris would “destroy” the country and “enslave” Americans with a “victim ideology” if elected.

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