Newt Gingrich blasted for likening FBI to Gestapo on eve of Holocaust Remembrance Day


WASHINGTON (JTA) — The Anti-Defamation League blasted Newt Gingrich after he compared the federal agents who raided the offices of an associate of President Donald Trump to the Nazis’ secret police.

ADL CEO Jonathan Greenblatt said Thursday that the comparison was especially egregious on the eve of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.

Gingrich spoke Wednesday on the Fox News Channel about this week’s raid on the office and living quarters of Trump’s personal lawyer, Michael Cohen, who he said “had the door taken off of the hinges at 6 in the morning.”

“That’s Stalin. That’s the Gestapo in Germany. That shouldn’t be the American FBI,” said Gingrich, an early backer of Trump who is the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and who is close to Jewish Republicans.

New Mt. Sinai Cemetery advertisement

“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,” Greenblatt said Thursday 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.”

Federal agents raided Cohen’s properties this week, reportedly seeking evidence that he paid for the silence of women who allegedly had extramarital relations with Trump. The payments are potentially unreported and illegal contributions to Trump’s election campaign.

Gingrich also complained about the predawn raid of former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort’s home last year. “We’ve now had Paul Manafort and his wife in their pajamas at 3 in the morning having the FBI break down the door,” aid Gingrich.

The Weekly Standard, a conservative publication, fact-checked Gingrich’s claims. In addition to concluding that likening U.S. federal agents to the Gestapo “is not remotely close to resembling any sort of accuracy,” theStandard  said that the FBI picked Manafort’s lock, and did not break down the door, and that in Cohen’s case, federal agents knocked on the door at 7:30 a.m., not 6 a.m. Additionally, Cohen said they were “courteous.”

Gingrich drew criticism from Jewish historians and reporters.

“Executing a valid Rule 41 warrant signed by a federal judge based on probable cause is like ‘the Gestapo in [Nazi] Germany,’ Gingrich says, in one of the more awkward references to the Holocaust on Yom HaShoah,” said Orin Kerr, a law professor at the University of Southern California, on Twitter.

Kerr on Thursday posted a thread about his own family’s flight from Nazi Europe.

Also weighing in was Jake Sherman, the reporter who co-authors the influential daily Politico briefing, Playbook.

“Today is holocaust remembrance day,” he said Thursday on Twitter. “Nazi secret police took people of my faith to death camps across eastern Europe. Families were destroyed. a generation of Jews died. The FBI raid was actually nothing at all like Nazi secret police.”

Gingrich appeared, in his own Twitter posting, to be nonplussed by the outrage.

“Why do people defend three am FBI raid on non-violent couple in their pajamas? How would YOU feel if you woke up to armed men in bedroom?” he said.