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Aasif Mandvi on Trump’s Press Conference: ‘These Are the First Signs of Fascism’

Variety logo Variety 1/12/2017 Seth Kelley
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Actor, comedian and former “Daily Show” correspondent Aasif Mandvi told Variety Wednesday night that he felt “distressed” after Donald Trump’s press conference earlier that day.

During the president elect’s first formal meeting with reporters since winning the election, he called BuzzFeed a “failing pile of garbage,” told a CNN reporter “You are fake news” and refused to take his question, and said that Russian hacking intended to help him win the election should be looked at as an “asset.”

“These are the first signs of fascism,” Mandvi told Variety. “These are the things we need to be wary of. We need to protect our democracy because there’s a potential autocrat in the White House.”

Mandvi, who tweeted several times during the press conference using the hashtag #FascistTrump, compared what he sees in Trump to the Obama presidency.

“You can say what you want about Obama, he wasn’t perfect, but at the end of the day he was a public servant. And he was in it for the service,” he said. “Trump doesn’t feel that way. He feels like he’s in it for Trump.”

The actor specifically cited Trump’s answer to a question from a reporter about a recent intelligence report that said Vladimir Putin and the Russian government were to blame for pre-election hacking intended to help Trump win. “If Putin likes Donald Trump, I consider that an asset, not a liability,” Trump said during the conference.

“You realize that he doesn’t understand why this is a problem at all,” Mandvi responded. “He’s thinking like a businessman. He’s thinking ‘It’s good for business.’ And that’s not what politics and running the country is about.”

Mandvi anticipates that anti-Trump protests — such as the Women’s March on Washington planned to take place the day after Trump’s inauguration, and another scheduled to take place at Sundance — will not stop anytime soon.

“Unfortunately I feel like there are going to be a lot of protests,” he said. “There’s going to be a lot of people standing up and saying ‘This is not [OK].’ I think we’re going to see some things perhaps unconstitutional, perhaps that undermine our democracy in ways we can’t imagine right now.”

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