Harris, Democrats slam video on Trump site referencing 'Unified Reich' while Republicans

Hannah Beier/Bloomberg via Getty Images

(WASHINGTON) -- Vice President Kamala Harris on Tuesday criticized Donald Trump for the since-deleted video reposted to his social media site Truth Social referencing a "Unified Reich" if reelected, calling it "appalling," but "unsurprising" coming from the former president.

"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 said. "And once again, it shows our freedoms and our very democracy are at stake."

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."

White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters President Joe Biden was "clearly tracking this" and indicated he would address the issue later Tuesday while campaigning in Boston.

"What I want to say more broadly is it is abhorrent, sickening and disgraceful for anyone to promote content associated with Germany's Nazi government under Adolf Hitler," Jean-Pierre said.

Biden himself, while leaving a Veterans of Foreign Wars post in New Hampshire where is speaking on the PACT Act, which expands health care and benefits to veterans exposed to toxic burn pits, was asked by reporters for his reaction to the video but said, "it would take too long."

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 I spoke to today dodged commenting on it. Sen. Lindsey Graham, one of Trump's most ardent supporters, deflected entirely when asked to react to the video.

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 press cameras.

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.

Tuesday, May 21, 2024 at 4:18PM by Justin Gomez and Allison Pecorin, ABC News Permalink