Election 2024

Jen Psaki slams Ron DeSantis’s authoritarianism as worse than Donald Trump

Jen Psaki
Jen Psaki Photo: Screenshot

MSNBC correspondent Jen Psaki likes to laugh at presidential candidate and Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R) as much as the next guy.

In a recent segment, the former White House press secretary acknowledged how easy it is to mock someone who seems to constantly humiliate himself in public – from allegedly eating pudding with his fingers to his silly white rain boots to his botched presidential campaign announcement that left listeners waiting through 26 minutes of tech delays.

“We could all spend the remainder of the Republican primary talking about awkward DeSantis moments,” Psaki said. “There will be more, but here’s the thing, none of that, nor his apparent failure to launch on Wednesday night, should detract from what he’s actually saying.”

She pointed out that overshadowed by his disastrous announcement was the fact that he told viewers he wanted to fire FBI director Christopher Wray on his first day in office and that he wants to pardon January 6th insurrectionists, as well as former President Donald Trump.

Psaki emphasized, however, that what has been “most alarming” is DeSantis’s plan to “leverage” Article II of the Constitution, which establishes the powers and limits of the executive branch.

Psaki called it a “critical guardrail on the powers of the executive branch,” a guardrail DeSantis has made clear he intends to circumvent.

“Desantis has made repeatedly clear this week that he’s not actually interested in any limitations or guardrails at all,” Psaki said. “He’s already forecasting that if elected he’ll find ways to sidestep constitutional restraints on presidential power.”

Psaki pointed out that in his presidential campaign announcement, he stated regarding Article II, “You’ve got to know how to use your leverage to advance what you’re trying to accomplish.”

“He’s effectively telling you he wants to do an end run around it,” she explained, adding that this is far from a one-off remark.

He also discussed this plan on Fox News. “You need to be willing to use Article II power to bring the administrative state to heal,” he said. “I will do that.”

And he spoke about it again on MSNBC.

“Clearly Desantis is pitching himself as the guy who will wield power in a way that extends even beyond what Trump did,” Psaki said.

She offered another quote of his where he says he will go further than presidents past: “You also have to be willing to assert the true scope of Article II powers, and I think a lot of our presidents have not been willing to do that.”

Psaki explained that he’s basically pitching himself to MAGA voters as someone who will go where Trump could not.

“For DeSantis, this is not about leadership or finding consensus,” she said, “certainly not about his respect for the office he’s now seeking or the Constitution. It’s about power. He’s made no secret of that, and you need only look at his recent remarks about how he governs in Florida.”

She then showed him making a speech in which he declared, “Yes, I may have earned 50% of the vote, but that entitled me to wield 100% of the executive power and I resolve to use it to advance conservative principles.”

She said none of this means we can’t still laugh at the memes and tweets mocking him, but she said to make sure it does not “distract from what he’s actually saying.”

“Because that is far more consequential.”

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