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Invoking Nazi Germany, Arnold Schwarzenegger Denounces Capitol Siege

MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

Although it feels like an eternity given the gravity of the moment, it's been just four days since a mob of pro-Trump extremists stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., threatening lawmakers carrying out a core function of American democracy and in doing so, threatening the heart of democracy. Since then, many have condemned what happened and those who encouraged it. But even so, the statement today by Arnold Schwarzenegger stands out. In a video released on Twitter, the former California governor, action movie star and first-generation immigrant compared the assault on the Capitol to one of the bleakest moments in modern European history.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER: I grew up in Austria. I'm very aware of Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass. It was a night of rampage against the Jews carried out in 1938 by the Nazi equivalent of the Proud Boys. Wednesday was the day of broken glass right here in the United States. The broken glass was in the windows of the United States Capitol. But the mob did not just shatter the windows of the Capitol, they shattered the ideals we took for granted. They did not just break down the doors of the building that housed American democracy, they trampled the very principles on which our country was founded.

MARTIN: Schwarzenegger went on to describe how lies destroyed Austria's democracy in the last century and could do the same in this country now.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCHWARZENEGGER: President Trump sought to overturn the results of an election, and of a fair election. He sowed the coup by misleading people with lies. My father and our neighbors were misled also with lies, and I know where such lies lead. President Trump is a failed leader. He will go down in history as the worst president ever. The good thing is that he soon will be as irrelevant as an old tweet. But what are we to make of those elected officials who have enabled his lies and his treachery? I will remind them of what Teddy Roosevelt said - patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the president.

MARTIN: Schwarzenegger urged Americans to look past partisan disagreements and put democracy first. And he ended with this request.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

SCHWARZENEGGER: I ask you to join me in saying to President-elect Biden, President-elect Biden, we wish you great success as our president. If you succeed, our nation succeeds. We support you with all our hearts as you seek to bring us together. And to those who think they can overturn the United States Constitution, note this - you will never win.

MARTIN: That was the former Republican governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, speaking in a video statement he released via Twitter today. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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