"I don't mean to be disrespectful," Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) told CNN's Jake Tapper on Sunday morning, "but this guy's a fraud."
The immediate reference was to a meeting President Donald Trump held with Wall Street executives on Friday in which he vowed—in what Common Dreams reported as a "spectacular betrayal"—to repeal key elements of the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill enacted in the wake of the 2008 financial crisis.
"We have a president, I fear very much, is moving us in a very authoritarian direction." —Sen. Bernie Sanders"It is hard not to laugh," Sanders said, "to see President Trump sitting alongside these Wall Street guys. This guy ran for the President of the United States saying, 'I'm Donald Trump and I'm gonna take on Wall Street—these guys are getting away with murder...' But suddenly he appoints all these billionaires; his major financial adviser comes from Goldman Sachs; and now he's gonna dismantle legislation that protects consumers. This is a guy who ran for president saying, 'I'm the only Republicans who's not going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid'—and then he appoints all of these guys who are precisely going to cut Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid."
And so, Sanders continued, "I hope those that all of those folks who voted for Mr. Trump—because they thought he would stand up for working people—man... and he's a good showman, I will give him that... but I think he's gonna sell out the middle class and the working class of this country."
Watch the full interview:
Elsewhere in the interview, Sanders said he would stand with Democrats in the Senate who have said that Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Neil Gorsuch, must reach the 60-vote threshold in order to be confirmed.
He said fulfilling the empty seat on the Supreme Court comes at a crucial time and that its implications should not be understated. Sanders described the current political moment as "exceptional times," and said he worries "very much" that "we have a president... moving us in a very authoritarian direction."
He explained that he was very worried that Trump, who on Saturday sent a tweet referring to a federal judge who ruled against his immigration order a "so-called judge," is a president "who apparently has contempt for the entire judiciary" and antagonstic towards separation of powers. "I want a Supreme Court," Sanders continued, "that is going to stand up to civil liberties; for our constitutional rights; for the rights of workers; for environmental rights; for the rights of women. So yes, sixty votes to appoint the next Supreme Court justice."
"We are living in a dangerous and unprecented moment in modern American history," Sanders said. "What this Supreme Court decision is about is whether we continue Citizens United and allow billionaires to buy elections. It's whether or not we continue Roe vs. Wade and allow a woman to control her own body. It's whether or not we have a court that protects the right of the government to make sure climate change is delt with and whether workers have the right to join unions. So this is a major, major nomination and it should require sixty votes and a serious debate."
Sanders also weighed in on the ongoing battle over the next chairperson of the Democratic National Committee, a contest in which he has thrown his full weight behind Rep. Keith Ellison of Minnesota.
In repeating his support for Ellison, Sanders said that if Democrats keep following the same playbook they've been using in recent decades, they cannot expect to have different results. He said Ellison represents the kind of leadership change that is necessary in order to defeat Trump and roll back the accumulated power of the Republican Party in congress and at the state and local level. "The Democratic Party has got to say: Yes, we’re going to take on the greed of Wall Street, the greed of the pharmaceutical industry, the greed of corporate America that throws American workers out on the streets and moves to Mexico and China. We are on the side of the elderly and the workers, not on the side of big business."
The Democratic Party has to "fundamentally change the way it does business," Sanders said.