Veteran journalist Geraldo Rivera condemned Donald Trump‘s latest comments about immigration, writing that the former president saying immigrants are “poisoning” the country harkens “back to the Nazi-era” and is “disgusting.”
Trump is facing backlash for his rhetoric surrounding immigration during an interview last month with The National Pulse. Trump has been critical of President Joe Biden‘s handling of immigration, arguing that his humanitarian-focused policies resulted in rising encounters at the U.S.-Mexico border—though experts point to other external factors, such as political unrest in several Latin American countries as driving migration. While conservatives largely back Trump on immigration, his latest immigration comments have drawn condemnation from even some of his fellow Republicans. The controversy comes as Trump remains the frontrunner in the Republican 2024 presidential primary.
“Nobody has ever seen anything like we’re witnessing right now. It is a very sad thing for our country. It’s poisoning the blood of our country. It’s so bad, and people are coming in with disease. People are coming in with every possible thing that you could have,” the former president said during the interview.
Rivera, a former host on Fox News and one-time friend to the former president, has joined the chorus of critics slamming his rhetoric on immigration.
“Former President Trump’s remark about undocumented immigrants ‘poisoning the blood of our country,’ is disgusting. Not only does it harken back to the Nazi-era, it is also part of the shameful, vile, centuries old tradition of claiming falsely that immigrants carry diseases,” Rivera wrote in a post to X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, on Friday.
In a video posted to X, Rivera described Trump’s comments as a “Hitler-like quote,” explaining that anti-immigrant rhetoric frequently claimed that migrants from Ireland or Italy were bringing diseases to the United States, despite that not being true, during the 19th century.
“To think that this guy was my friend. It is shocking, and I’m so embarrassed the president would say something like ‘poisoning the blood of the country.’ That is absolutely indefensible,” he said.
A Trump spokesperson defended his comments in a statement reported by CNN, arguing that he used “a normal phrase that is used in everyday life.”
“This is a normal phrase that is used in everyday life – in books, television, movies, and in news articles. For anyone to think that is racist or xenophobic is living in an alternate reality consumed with non-sensical outrage,” the spokesperson said. Newsweek also reached out to Trump’s campaign for comment via email.
Rivera told CNN on Friday that the statement was “absolute bull****.”
“It is low down and dirty. Give me a break. Normal everyday discourse? Who talks about poison blood? Who talks about that? Who says that an immigrant is poisoning?” he said. “This is not appropriate discourse. This is not fair play. This is awful. Just awful.”
Rivera was friends with Trump for decades, as far back as the 1970s. However, he told The New York Times that his friendship with the former president ended when he refused to support his claims that the 2020 election was stolen via widespread voter fraud.
“I feel awful that he made me dump him,” Rivera said.