Former House of Representatives Speaker Newt Gingrich.
(photo credit: REUTERS/LUCAS JACKSON)
NEW YORK – Former US speaker of the House of Representatives Newt Gingrich sparked outrage when he compared the American justice system to the Gestapo, hours after Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Gingrich, 74, made the comments during an interview with Fox News, taking issue with the FBI’s recent raid of the office and home of US President Donald Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, reportedly in connection to a payment made to adult-film star Stormy Daniels.
“It ain’t the rule of law when they kick in your door at 3 in the morning and you’re faced with armed men,” Gingrich lamented on-air. “And you have had no reason to be told you’re going to have that kind of treatment.
“That’s Stalin. That’s the Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn’t be the American FBI,” he said.
The comments earned a swift rebuke from leading Jewish institutions in the United States, saying such comparisons diminished the true scope and horror of the brutal actions taken by the Third Reich’s secret police.
“Newt Gingrich’s remarks comparing the Justice Department’s actions in executing a search warrant to ‘the Gestapo in Germany’ are deeply offensive, especially coming on Holocaust Remembrance Day, when we recall the campaign of Nazi atrocities against the Jewish people,” Jonathan Greenblatt, CEO of the Anti-Defamation League, told The Jerusalem Post
in a statement.
“There’s simply no comparing the actions of the Gestapo with America’s criminal justice system. This is an inappropriate trivialization of history,” he added.
A request for comment sent to a Gingrich representative by the Post
was not immediately returned.
Meanwhile, Rabbi Abraham Cooper, associate dean of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, told the Post
that “even accounting for concerns over recent actions by the FBI, speaker Gingrich knows that there is no justification for comparing to murderous Nazi Gestapo, especially while we commemorate Yom Hashoah.”
The progressive feminist organization Zioness described Gingrich’s statements as “preposterous” and “repugnant,” saying that law enforcement executed a lawful action after obtaining warrant from the court.
“A comparison of American law enforcement agents to the Gestapo – Nazi Germany’s genocidal secret police – would be repugnant in any context,” the group’s co-founder Amanda Berman told the Post. “For speaker Gingrich to make such a comparison in the context of a raid that was nonviolent and, as far as we know, entirely lawful, is preposterous, and denigrates the memory of the Gestapo’s millions of innocent victims. To do it on Yom Hashoah is simply unconscionable.”
Earlier on Thursday, US Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-New York) issued a stern message to his former Republican colleague, writing in a tweet: “The Gestapo rounded up and helped murder millions of Jews. The FBI did not. Do not ever, ever try to equate the two.”
Gringrich was the 50th Speaker of the House of Representatives, serving from 1995 to 1999 while representing Georgia’s 6th congressional district.