President Donald Trump's comments denigrating judges are "deeply disturbing," and are far more dangerous than his comments about the media or a movie star, because "presidents do not speak this way," MSNBC's Joe Scarborough said Thursday.
"It's more than stunning; it is dangerous," the former congressman and MSNBC "Morning Joe" anchor said during a panel discussion. "Again, for anyone who knows the history of the 20th century, it is dangerous when you have executives trying to denigrate the judicial branch and judicial independence."
Trump has been criticizing the courts on Twitter and in speeches, including Wednesday, when he told a gathering of major city police officers that the nation's court system is "so political."
The comments came after Trump slammed federal Judge James Robart in Washington State on Twitter for his stay on an executive order banning banning travel from seven Muslim-majority Middle Eastern countries, calling him a "so-called" judge and saying he would be the one to blame if a terror attack occurred.
"This is, you know, I talked about how we have to sort through the things to worry about and things not to worry about," Scarborough said Thursday. "We can't be screeching up here. You know, if he tweets at a movie star, that's just embarrassing. If he tweets a department store, there are more concerns there that ratchets it up a bit."
But by Trump insulting federal court judges, it "either is an attempt to intentionally discredit them so he can strip them of power down the road or it's a complete ignorance of the system," Scarborough said. "He talks about high school students. I think a lot of high school students could tell him the ninth circuit is left. The 11th circuit is right of center. These things balance out."
Trump's Twitter comments came as his White House is starting to come into order, said Scarborough, and the most concerning issues didn't come from any staff or Cabinet members, but from Trump's Twitter account and his speech.
"He said some things that were chilling for anyone that knows anything about history and the importance of judicial independence," Scarborough said. "The systems are getting in place. The question is, can those systems be applied to the commander in chief?"
The comments also echo those of "some of the most dangerous autocrats of the 20th century," said Scarborough, saying he did not want to mention their names.
"Their two goals were to first undermine an independent judiciary and second, to undermine a free press. This crosses a bright, bright line that conservatives in my party need to start talking about and need to start pushing back on," Scarborough said.
He said he also wonders if there is anyone around Trump to tell him he will not like the eventual ruling in the case.
"They ruled against him in Washington," Scarborough said. "It will go to the ninth circuit, rule against him and kicked to the Supreme Court. Most likely, he wins 5-3, even in a 4-4 court. Maybe more than that. But, for him to say all the things he said yesterday, again are deeply disturbing because he keeps talking about how they are political. He's trying to set them up for blame, if there is a terror attack, which there is absolutely, positively no evidence we are facing an imminent threat right now."
But such attacks are Trump's "default reaction to things," show co-host Willie Geist agreed.
"If something is not going to go his way, if somebody assaults him, he goes after the legitimacy of the source," Geist added. "If you want to go after the media, that's fine, we are doing our jobs. When it's the judiciary, that's different."
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