Biden, Democrats slam video on Trump site referencing 'Unified Reich' while Republicans dodge commenting

"That’s Hitler’s language; that's not America’s," the president said.

May 21, 2024, 5:40 PM

President Joe Biden on Tuesday took aim at Donald Trump for the since-deleted video reposted to his social media site Truth Social referencing a "Unified Reich" if reelected.

Biden posted a video to X showing him reacting to the video.

"Is this on his official account?" Biden asked after a short clip of Trump's plays on a split screen. "Wow. A 'Unified Reich?' That's Hitler's language; that's not America's. He cares about holding on to power. I care about you."

Biden also slammed the controversial post as un-American during a campaign fundraiser in Boston, according to the White House press pool.

"And yesterday, his campaign posted online about if he wins it'll be a unified Reich -- like the third Reich," Biden told the room, according to reporters. "This is the same guy that uses Hitler's language, not America's."

President Joe Biden speaks about the PACT Act at the Westwood Park YMCA, on May 21, 2024, in Nashua, N.H.
Alex Brandon/AP

Earlier Tuesday, Vice President Kamala Harris offered a similar reaction to the controversial post.

"Just yesterday, the former president of the United States, who praises dictators, who said there were 'very fine people on both sides' in Charlottesville -- let's not forget -- took to social media and highlighted language from Nazi Germany," Harris said as she addressed a convention of service employees in Philadelphia.

"This kind of rhetoric is unsurprising coming from the former president and it is appalling and we got to tell him who we are," the vice president continued. "And once again, it shows our freedoms and our very democracy are at stake."

Vice President Kamala Harris speaks at the 2024 SEIU International Convention in Philadelphia, May 21, 2024.
Pool/ABC News

The phrase "Unified Reich" appeared in a social media video, the Trump campaign said was reposted by a staffer, that announced the former president's hypothetical victory in the 2024 election. Specifically, the words were part of a hypothetical news headline.

Under a big headline that said, "WHAT'S NEXT FOR AMERICA?" there was a smaller headline that appeared to read: "INDUSTRIAL STRENGTH SIGNIFICANTLY INCREASED DRIVEN BY THE CREATION OF A UNIFIED REICH."

The video was online for more than 18 hours before it was deleted on Tuesday. The Trump campaign told ABC News in a statement that it was a random online video reposted by a staffer who did not see the word.

The Biden-Harris campaign denounced the post as part of a "pattern of his praise for dictators and echoing antisemitic tropes."

Trump has denied ever reading "Mein Kampf" and his campaign previously said comparisons made by Trump's critics to Hitler or Mussolini are "ridiculous."

A screengrab from a video posted on former President Donald Trump's page on TruthSocial on May 20, 2024

Republican lawmakers dodge the issue

Senate Republicans on Tuesday largely avoided commenting on the video.

Sen. Mike Rounds, R-S.D., was one of few Senate Republicans who was outrightly critical of the post. He said he had not seen the video but had heard about it.

"If that's the case, it is a very serious mistake to make. It does not send the right message about what the rest of us believe in terms of freedom and I would hope that it would have been either an oversight or it would be corrected," Rounds told ABC News. "To use that term in this day and age is simply inappropriate and it's got to be corrected."

But most Republicans ABC News spoke with dodged commenting on it. South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's most ardent supporters, deflected entirely when asked to react to the video.

"I don't know, see I don't follow -- in case you haven't noticed, the world is falling apart. Have you all not noticed that?" Graham said before walking away from news cameras.

Sen. Lindsey Graham speaks during a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Defense with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. CQ Brown on Capitol Hill, May 8, 2024.
Mark Schiefelbein/AP

Others said they hadn't seen it or weren't aware of its contents.

"I don't know anything about that," Sen. John Cornyn, R-Texas, told ABC News.

Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, an outspoken critic of Trump, said he hasn't seen the video.

Democrats call it 'petrifying'

Senate Democrats, however, were quick to admonish the video.

Sen. Dick Durbin, the top Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said it's "hard to believe" these things are accidental, as he referenced several other comments from Trump over the last several years that he said mirrored Nazism.

"Is this just an accident? Does he have some passion for that era? I can't understand why it has nothing to do with America and its future," Durbin told ABC News.

Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., called the comments "petrifying" and said blaming the post on a campaign staffer is not enough.

"Campaign staffers speak for the individual whose campaign it is and he has to completely denounce and disown it or he in fact is responsible for it. It is part and parcel of the Trump appeal to the White Supremacist antisemitism Islamophobia in this country that is rising now not just in speech but also in incidence of hate crime," Blumenthal said.

ABC News' Alexandra Hutzler contributed to this report.