On May 16, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Gov. John Kasich hosted a Town Hall on CNN. The discussion was originally scheduled to focus on healthcare and other important issues facing working class, middle class, and low income Americans. Due to breaking news related to FBI Director James Comey’s firing, the Town Hall instead focused on the allegations that President Donald Trump tried to pressure Comey into halting the FBI investigation into former National Security Advisor, General Michael Flynn.
Sanders didn’t hold back in his criticisms of Trump, frequently asserting the need for a special prosecutor and bipartisan support to expedite a full and complete investigation so the American public can move on past the Russia narrative. Sanders also weighed in on whether Trump has the capacity to effectively serve as President.
“I’m not a psychiatrist and not a lawyer, but there’s something strange going on, I think, with Mr. Trump,” Sanders told CNN’s Jake Tapper, who asked if Sanders felt Trump was competent enough to fulfill the duties required from a president. “There has never been a president—or even a candidate—who has lied all of the time. I mean, we’re looking at Dana and Jake right now. Essentially what he has said is they are liars—don’t believe a word that anybody in the mainstream media faces.”
Sanders referred to several comments Trump made, criticizing mainstream media outlets—including a recent alleged comment from FBI Director James Comey’s memo, in which Trump asked Comey to prosecute journalists who report on classified information.
“Look, I’m sure you’ve had problems with the media. I’ve had problems with the media. But I’m not here to tell you everybody in the media is a liar. That is undermining what America is about,” Sanders added. “This is a guy who said when a judge ruled against him—I believe appropriately—on this Muslim ban, he said this is a ‘so-called’ judge. This is the president of the United States undermining our judiciary.”
Sanders continued, “this is a president who is trying to divide us up, whether we were born in America, or born in Mexico, or whether we are Muslims. This is not a typical president. I don’t think this is just a learning curve. I think he’s a smart guy. But something else is going on. And all of this leads me—and his affection for Putin and he’s trying—all of this leads me to think that you got an authoritarian-type mind here, as somebody who is not a great believer in dissent or democracy. And that worries me very much.”
Kasich objected to Sanders designating Trump as a liar, but Sanders stood his ground, pressing Kasich for dismissing Trump’s controversies as symptomatic of a learning curve. “A new president is going to learn. There’s a learning curve,” Sanders said. “New presidents are going to make mistakes. I disagree with Trump on health care, I disagree with him on climate change. I understand that. That’s not unusual. There is something unusual about this president. You have never seen a president who has said basically that everything you see on television is a lie. You have never seen a president, I don’t believe, attack the judiciary, try to divide us up in the way that he has. There is something different about this guy’s presidency.”