Former Defense Secretary William Cohen, who also served in Congress during Watergate, said Wednesday that President TrumpDonald TrumpBiden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package Trump calls Milley a 'f---ing idiot' over Afghanistan withdrawal First rally for far-right French candidate Zemmour prompts protests, violence MORE’s rhetoric as he pushes back on the impeachment inquiry against him makes him sound like a dictator.
"He feels that he alone can take action, without regard to any of the other institutions which are there to make sure that the rule of law stays intact," Cohen said on CNN. “And so that — 'Only I can do this,' and that has the sound of, you know, a dictator or a dictatorship."
Cohen, who sat on the House Judiciary Committee during the impeachment inquiry into former President Nixon before later joining the Cabinet of former President Clinton, compared Trump’s conduct to George Orwell's dystopian novel "1984."
He pointed to Trump insisting that his July phone call, in which he urged Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate his political rival former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenChina eyes military base on Africa's Atlantic coast: report Biden orders flags be flown at half-staff through Dec. 9 to honor Dole Biden heading to Kansas City to promote infrastructure package MORE, was “perfect.” The call became the subject of a whistleblower complaint that triggered the impeachment inquiry in the House.
"I would ask everyone to go back and read Orwell's '1984,' and look at what he was writing about in a fictional sense, and saying, 'Is that where we're headed?,' where you have a Ministry of Truth, in which you can tell the biggest of lies and you repeat them over and over again until they're accepted as the truth," Cohen said.
"That's pretty fictional, but it's not too far removed when you can have the president of the United States say, 'Yeah, I wrote this letter, and it's a perfect letter,’” he concluded.
William Cohen, former US Senate Republican: "I would ask everyone to go back and read Orwell’s 1984, and look at what he was writing about in a fictional sense, and saying, ‘Is that where we’re headed?'" pic.twitter.com/AgX0uUrUKA— Christiane Amanpour (@camanpour) October 30, 2019
Cohen, who also served three terms in the Senate, was a first-term Republican from Maine when he was just one of seven GOP lawmakers who cast votes in the House supporting Nixon’s impeachment.
Cohen has become an outspoken critic of Trump, targeting his decision to ban transgender people from the military as well as to host a Fourth of July event featuring military vehicles earlier this year.
Cohen has said Trump is “taking a wrecking ball to every pillar of stability and security” that the U.S. has established over the last several decades.
"I expressed this view to begin with. I must say it publicly: I did not support him for the president. I felt that by training and background and temperament, that he was not fit for the job, and everything I’ve seen to date — not everything, I give him credit when he's been right and I give him credit for taking on China on multiple issues. But when it comes to the national security and the way he's dealing with our allies and the way he is betraying our interests, then I say no," he said in December.
The House on Thursday approved procedures for the impeachment inquiry into Trump's actions, the first time the process has gone up for a floor vote.
The measure, which establishes rules for open hearings and the questioning of witnesses by members and staff, passed in a 232-196 party-line vote, with just two Democrats voting against it and no Republicans supporting it.