A former Trump staffer on Monday compared the president to the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini after the commander-in-chief appeared on the White House balcony to wave to the American people upon his release from hospital.
Anthony Scaramucci, who served as White House director of communications in 2017, appeared on CNN to discuss Mr Trump's release from Walter Reed Medical Center, where he had been recieving coronavirus treatment.
Referring to the president's balcony stunt, Mr Scarmucci told CNN's Chirs Cuomo: "And you've got, I don't know, the American Mussolini, standing on the balcony ... we've never had a president stand on that balcony and do what he just did."
Mr Trump, 74, returned to Washington DC on Monday evening insisting that he was feeling well and in good spirits, following a weekend in which he received supplemental oxygen and a cocktail of drugs to treat his coronavirus infection.
In a highly staged performance, the president – who is likely still contagious – posed for photos after exiting Marine One on the South Lawn. He then headed for the Truman balcony, where he ripped off his face mask and gave a thumbs-up to the waiting media.
After pausing for a few moments, the president then turned and entered a room full of aides, still without wearing a face covering.
Mr Scaramucci – himself an Italian-American – was among a number of critics who compared the president to Mussolini, who often used a balcony above the Piazza Venezia, a public square in Rome, to address his followers.
The White House and the president's reelection campaign was thrown into chaos after the commander-in-chief confirmed his positive Covid test late on Thursday. With less than a month to go before election day, a number of his key aides have been diagnosed with the disease, which has so far killed some 210,00 Americans.
According to Mr Scaramucci, who lasted less than a month in the White House, Mr Trump's handling of the pandemic and his own infection makes him a danger to the American people.
He also claimed the president had put his staff at risk and suggested the White House could use Mr Trump's illness for political gain: "Of course, that's going to be their whole bumper sticker, that's going to be their whole manipulation."
Mr Scaramucci also used the CNN interview to hit out at GOP politicians and officials whom he claimed enable the president's behaviour.
"The thing that worries me the most ... what about the people that are helping him ... a demagogue can only be powerful if they have willing accomplices," he said.
"What does it say for guys like Mitch McConnel ... Kevin McCarthy ... what are you guys doing? You swore an oath to the constitution of the United States and to protect the American citizens."
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