The Jolt: In a pulpit critique of Donald Trump, Hank Johnson invokes Adolf Hitler

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

Credit: Hyosub Shin/AJC

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia. HYOSUB SHIN / HSHIN@AJC.COM

U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson has never been a fan of President Donald Trump, but the Lithonia Democrat significantly dialed up his criticism on Tuesday with a searing New Year's Day speech that drew parallels between Trump's rise and that of Adolf Hitler.

Johnson made his point from the pulpit at Friendship Baptist Church, during a celebration to mark the 156th anniversary of the implementation of the Emancipation Proclamation. He urged vigilance against tyranny.

“Americans, particularly black Americans, can’t afford to make that same mistake about the harm that could be done by a man named Hitler or a man named Trump,” Johnson said.

Both men, Johnson said, were charismatic public speakers, received hard-to-track donations from wealthy industrialists and stirred up their supporters at raucous rallies.

“Hitler was accepting of violence towards the achievement of political objectives,” Johnson said. “Trump encouraged violence against protesters at his rallies, and his messaging about Charlottesville -- that there were bad people on both sides -- sent a powerful message of approval to the far right racists in America.”

You can watch the congressman's remarks here, beginning at roughly the 1:06:30 mark.

This is far from the first time that Nazi Germany has been used as a metaphor by a Georgia member of Congress. U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., a fierce presidential ally, apologized last fall after being reprimanded for comparing opponents of U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh to the Brownshirts, the Nazi party's paramilitary wing.

Johnson's comments came two days before Thursday's Democrats takeover of the U.S. House. The Georgia congressman will have a senior position on the chamber's Judiciary Committee, the powerful panel anticipated to spearhead many investigations into the president.

The general rule in politics has been that he who is the first to bring Hitler into the dialogue loses. But after his Tuesday speech, Johnson defended his use of the historic example.

“I wanted to make the point that our democracy is under severe threat, that freedom is threatened, and that if we are not vigilant we can allow tyranny to set in,” he told one of your Insiders. “I made the point that this threat to democracy is a trend across the world, and we can’t let this happen in our country.”


U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris, D-Calif., may put her presidential campaign headquarters in Atlanta, according to a New York Times report that outlined her preparations to run for the White House.

The article said the U.S. senator was debating between Baltimore and Atlanta for her HQ after concluding that logistics required a base of operations in the Eastern Time Zone.

Harris made several visits to Georgia during the 2018 campaign to stump for Stacey Abrams and other Democrats - and also quietly met with operatives and donors as she prepped for a potential bid.


One day before his swearing-in as the junior U.S. senator from Utah, former GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney has penned an op-ed in today's Washington Post, expressing disappointment in President Donald Trump. One line:

[O]n balance, his conduct over the past two years, particularly his actions this month, is evidence that the president has not risen to the mantle of the office.

The question is whether Romney has just signaled his willingness to mount a Republican primary challenge to Trump in 2020, or has merely stated his intent to become the next Jeff Flake – a voice of GOP dissent within the confines of Congress.

Flake, a Republican from Arizona, will exit the Senate as Romney enters.


Speaking of op-eds in the Washington Post: Former President Jimmy Carter had one on Sunday, worrying over rising tensions in Asia. A taste:

I hear Chinese elites claiming that Americans are conducting an "evil conspiracy" to destabilize China. I hear prominent Americans, disappointed that China has not become a democracy, claiming that China poses a threat to the American way of life. U.S. government reports declare that China is dedicated to challenging U.S. supremacy, and that it is planning to drive the United States out of Asia and reduce its influence in other countries around the world.

If top government officials embrace these dangerous notions, a modern Cold War between our two nations is not inconceivable. At this sensitive moment, misperceptions, miscalculations and failure to follow carefully defined rules of engagement in areas such as the Taiwan Strait and South China Sea could escalate into military conflict, creating a worldwide catastrophe.


In Chapter 17 of "What Will Stacey Abrams Do?", a novel of a young(ish) African-American woman and her political aspirations, we see our main character maintaining a focus on Georgia-centric issues. There was, for instance, the Sunday Tweet pointing to this piece on an Medicaid program in Arkansas that has instituted work requirements. A couple paragraphs:

The state has removed more than 16,000 low-income adults for failing to log at least 80 hours of work, job training, volunteering or similar activity — including 4,655 in November.

Some of the people thrown off the program describe a nightmarish, confusing experience with clunky technology and no one to help them. Individuals who don't adhere to the new rules for three months get removed from Medicaid for the rest of the year.


While more are expected, as of this moment, Daniel Blackman is the only announced candidate for chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia. The election to replace DuBose Porter, the current chairman, is Jan. 26.

In a letter to fellow Democrats, Blackman cites the GOP example of Nick Ayers, the Sonny Perdue protégé who last month passed up a chance to become President Donald Trump's chief of staff:

We need to be able to take an 18-year-old high school graduate from Henry or Muscogee or Lumpkin County and move them from a volunteer or intern to a Chief of Staff in the White House by the time they're 40. That's what our opposition can do, and that's how I'll judge our success as the next Chair of our Party.


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