- Prominent Hollywood film actor
- Attended Elisabeth Irwin High School, a Manhattan institution famous for its radical politics and commonly known as “The Little Red Schoolhouse”
- Avid supporter of the Democratic Party and leftist causes
- Detests President Donald Trump
Robert De Niro Jr. was born on August 17, 1943, in the Greenwich Village section of Manhattan. Both of his parents were accomplished artists. De Niro’s father was a secret homosexual who divorced his wife in 1945.
When De Niro (Jr.) was in the 7th and 8th grades, he attended Elisabeth Irwin High School, a Manhattan institution famous for its radical politics and commonly known as “The Little Red Schoolhouse.” Most of the teachers there were members of the American Communist Party. Other prominent alumni of this school include the former Weather Underground terrorist Kathy Boudin; lifelong Communist Angela Davis; Michael and Robert Meeropol (sons of atomic spies Julius and Ethel Rosenberg); The Nation publisher Victor Navasky; and folk singer Mary Travers.
Developing a love for theater at an early age, De Niro in 1960 dropped out of high school to study acting. After debuting in the 1968 film, Greetings, he achieved stardom with breakthrough performances in two 1973 productions: Bang the Drum Slowly and Mean Streets. De Niro went on to become one of the most successful and acclaimed actors in Hollywood, appearing in such movies as The Godfather: Part II (1974), The Deer Hunter (1978), Raging Bull (1980), Goodfellas (1990), Analyze This (1999), Meet the Parents (2000), and Meet the Fockers (2004). By 2019, De Niro had amassed a net worth of approximately $500 million.
Supporting Hillary Clinton & Barack Obama (2006-2008)
In a December 2006 television appearance on Hardball with Chris Matthews, De Niro was asked who he hoped would become the next president of the United States. He replied: “Well, I think of two people: Hillary Clinton and [Barack] Obama.” By early 2008, he was actively campaigning for the latter. At an Obama rally that February, De Niro addressed the claims of critics who had said that Obama’s political resumé was too thin to qualify him for the White House. “Barack Obama doesn’t have the experience to run for President of the United States,” said De Niro sarcastically, “and I can prove it. He did not have the foresight to vote for the Iraq War. You know: that’s the kind of inexperience I can get used to. That’s the kind of inexperience our country deserves.”
Advocating Immigration Reform
When receiving a Cecil B. DeMille Lifetime Achievement Award at the Golden Globe Awards ceremony in January 2011, De Niro, in his acceptance speech, used humor to mock U.S. immigration laws which he viewed as excessively restrictive: “I’m sorry more members of the Hollywood Foreign Press aren’t with us tonight, but many of them were deported right before the show, along with most of the waiters … and [Spanish actor] Javier Bardem…. For the rest of you, I hope your papers are in order, because Homeland Security will be checking them just as soon as they’re through with the full body scans of [actress] Megan Fox.”
Supporting Barack Obama, and Urging Republicans to Help Obama Advance His Agenda (2012)
At a March 2012 fundraiser for Barack Obama’s reelection campaign, De Niro named the wives of several Republican presidential candidates — “Callista Gingrich, Karen Santorum, Ann Romney” — and joked: “Now, do you really think our country is ready for a white First Lady?”
In a May 2012 airing of NBC’s Meet the Press, host David Gregory asked De Niro if he felt “as inspired” by President Obama, who was seeking re-election, as he had felt four years earlier. De Niro replied: “… I think he’s done a good job … as far as [killing al-Qaeda leader Osama] bin Laden and other things that he stepped up—being a liberal president, supposedly—that were effective…. I give him credit and I know he’ll do better in the next four years, when he won’t have to worry whether he’s going to be elected or not.” De Niro also exhorted Republicans to be more supportive of the president’s agenda: “… [G]ive us some faith in your behavior and don’t make preposterous statements, don’t get into all this posturing and silliness. Try to be—try to move forward and help the president, even though you’re from another party, the other party. Try to stop criticizing so much. Try to move it forward.”
De Niro gave Obama a ringing endorsement in a September 2013 interview published in Du Jour magazine: “He’s a good person, period…. [H]e represents, I think, the best of the type of people that I would like to see running the government.”
In 2013 as well, De Niro appeared — along with such luminaries as Matt Damon, Alec Baldwin, Whoopi Goldberg, Michael Douglas, Morgan Freeman, and Naomi Watts — in The World Must Stand Together, a video produced by Global Zero, an organization seeking to eliminate all nuclear weapons from the earth.
Attending Obama’s U.S.-African Leaders Summit
In August 2014, De Niro and his wife, Grace Hightower, were among the specially invited guests who attended Barack Obama’s three-day U.S.-African Leaders Summit for African heads of state and their spouses.
De Niro’s Caribbean Mega-Resort Project
Shortly after the K Club, which had once been a well-known luxury getaway on the Caribbean island of Barbuda, fell into disrepair and was permanently shut down in 2014, De Niro and Australian billionaire James Packer together sought permission to construct a $250 million, 391-acre mega-resort called “Paradise Found” on that same abandoned site. Their proposed resort would include an eco-lodge, a yacht marina, more than 40 upscale cottages equipped with their own private pools, and a nearby airport. In November 2015, the parliament of Antigua and Barbuda passed a “Paradise Found” law to make way for the project, just hours after the bill had been formally introduced. The new law gave De Niro and his partner a 25-year tax holiday along with other enormous financial incentives. But opponents of the De Niro/Packer initiative, in conjunction with voices of opposition in parliament, complained that the project would trample the rights of local citizens, “wipe out” sections of existing real estate law, and deprive the elected Barbuda Council of its legal right to “consider and approve” all large-scale property transactions on the island.
Supporting Hillary Clinton for President
In April 2015, De Niro was asked whether he thought Hillary Clinton would become the next U.S. president. He replied: “Hopefully it will be her, yes. I think that she’s paid her dues. There are going to be no surprises, and she has earned the right to be president and the head of the country at this point. It’s that simple. And she’s a woman, which is very important because her take on things may be what we need right now.”
De Niro Wins GLAAD’s “Excellence in Media Award”
At a May 14, 2016 gala in New York City, the influential gay-rights advocacy organization GLAAD honored De Niro with its “Excellence in Media Award” for his positive portrayals of homosexual characters in film. In his acceptance speech, De Niro celebrated the Supreme Court’s recent Obergefell v. Hodges decision which legalized same-sex marriage. At the same time, he cautioned his audience to “also remember oppressive laws like the ones in North Carolina that let us know the struggle continues and challenges us to be vigilant and aggressive in protecting all our rights.” “Thank you for this honor, I’m proud to stand with you, I’m GLAAD,” De Niro added.
Co-Chair of DiCaprio’s Climate Gala
In July 2016, De Niro co-chaired the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation’s annual Gala to Fund Climate and Biodiversity Projects, along with Kevin Spacey, Kate Hudson, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Penelope Cruz, Cate Blanchett, and Charlize Theron. The event raised $45 million for DiCaprio’s environmental projects, mostly through its charity auction for prizes that included DiCaprio’s Rolex watch and the diamond cufflinks, a date with DiCaprio to the U.S. Open men’s tennis final, a week on set with the famed director Martin Scorcese, an invitation to a poker game with Jonah Hill and Edward Norton, and lunch with Wolf of Wall Street star Margot Robbie.
In October 2016, De Niro appeared in a celebrity get-out-the-vote public service announcement in which he joined such film stars as Leonardo DiCaprio, Samuel L. Jackson, and Julia Roberts in urging Americans to register to vote in advance of the upcoming November presidential election featuring Donald Trump vs. Hillary Clinton.
Supporting National School Walkout by Students Demanding Gun Control
In April 2018, De Niro demonstrated his support for student gun-control activists by drafting the template for an “excuse” letter asking school administrators and teachers to permit students to walk out of their classes on April 20 as a gesture of support for increased gun-control measures. On this template, which bore De Niro’s signature at the bottom, students seeking to receive an excused absence for participating in the walkout could insert their own names on a blank line. The letter read, in part: “Please excuse _________ from classes on April 20th to participate in the National School Walkout. I know we share the same interest for our children – a safe nurturing environment for their education and growth….”
De Niro Organizes Celebrity Meeting with Cuban President
De Niro organized a September 2018 celebrity meeting in New York City’s Dakota building with Cuban President Miguel Díaz-Canel, who was in town to deliver an address at the United Nations General Assembly. According to Breitbart.com: “De Niro organized the meeting alongside founders and organizers of New York’s Havana Film Festival. He invited a bevy of Hollywood celebrities, including Harry Belafonte, Coldplay’s Chris Martin, director Darren Aronofsky, and rapper Nas; more than 30 celebrities attended the meeting.”
During the event, De Niro criticized President Trump’s decision to roll back former President Barack Obama’s “Cuban Thaw,” even though Obama’s policy had resulted in a dramatic rise in human-rights violations on the island nation. Said De Niro : “Good neighbors talk, good neighbors share, good neighbors do not build walls, and that culture serves to build bridges.” “While there are many problems between the two countries,” he added, “I hope they eventually disappear, but the current [U.S.] President [Trump] is not helping with the situation. I love going to Cuba. I did not know I was so known there. People took pictures of me, they followed me. I was surprised. It was something wonderful.”
De Niro Mocks Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh
At an October 2018 event for the Children’s Diabetes Foundation, De Niro mocked the recently confirmed Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh, appointed by President Trump, for his alleged drinking – in light of unsubstantiated accusations claiming that he had gotten drunk and then sexually assaulted a young woman when he was a teenager 36 years earlier. “Now, one reminder,” said De Niro, slurring his words. “The drinks, wine and beer are flowing. But be careful if you have too much, you may end up on the Supreme Court.”
De Niro Says Beto O’Rourke Could Be a Good Democratic Presidential Candidate
In October 2018, De Niro suggested that perhaps Beto O’Rourke could be the Democrat presidential nominee to challenge President Trump in 2020. “We all know my thought about the president [Trump], and we have a more important thing now and that’s working to get rid of him,” De Niro told Bloomberg News. “This Beto O’Rourke seems interesting,” added the actor.
De Niro’s Verbal Abuse of Female Employees
In early October 2019, De Niro’s former personal assistant, a woman named Graham Chase Robinson, filed a lawsuit against the actor in a New York federal court, alleging that he had targeted the plaintiff with gender discrimination, harassment, workplace retaliation, verbal abuse, and unwanted physical conduct. In a voicemail message which was leaked to the entertainment outlet TMZ, De Niro was heard saying to Robinson: “You fucking don’t answer my calls? How dare you. You’re about to be fired. You’re fucking history. Don’t be angry with me ’cause I’m pissed off ’cause I didn’t get a simple thing that I need right now here in California, where I’m here less than 24 hours. You gotta be fucking kidding me, you spoilt brat!” Also in her complaint, Robinson accused De Niro of having repeatedly directed aggressive rants against her in which he called her a “bitch” and a “brat” while calling another woman a “cunt.”
“Ms. Robinson’s position became increasingly intolerable, and over the years she announced her intent to resign multiple times,” the lawsuit read. “De Niro responded with both a carrot and a stick – he made promises to induce to her stay and threatened repercussions if she left.” “De Niro also stood idly by while his friend slapped Ms. Robinson on her buttocks,” the suit continued. “He does not accept the idea that men should treat women as equals. He does not care that gender discrimination in the workplace violates the law. Ms. Robinson is a casualty of this attitude.”
Notably, De Niro had filed his own $6 million lawsuit against Ms. Robinson two months earlier because of her alleged misconduct as vice president of production and finance of Canal Productions, the actor’s company. Robinson, in turn, claimed that De Niro’s lawsuit had permanently damaged her reputation. As Robinson’s lawsuit put it: “The results have been devastating to Ms. Robinson. Her reputation and her career have been destroyed.”
De Niro Dines with Barack Obama
On October 21, 2019, De Niro had dinner with former President Barack Obama in a New York City restaurant.
De Niro Says That Pete Buttigieg Would Be “The Best” Democrat to Challenge Trump for President in 2020
In November 2019, De Niro said that the Democratic candidate who would be best capable of beating President Trump in 2020 was Pete Buttigieg. “Buttigieg I like a lot,” the actor stated. “He’s got all the credentials—Rhodes Scholar, Afghanistan veteran—even though he’s young, and if he could get a chance it could be something special, I think.” “As a gay person, he’s someone who comes from a marginalized community, so people from other ethnic groups can identify with him, even if they’re not gay, because they know what it’s like,” De Niro added, seemingly unaware that according to fresh data from Quinnipiac University, Buttigieg was polling at zero percent among black voters in the state of South Carolina. De Niro also said: “I think he’s [Buttigieg is] the best for what we need now. I have friends who really like him a lot, as I do.”
De Niro Says He Also Likes Biden, Sanders, & Warren As Democrat Presidential Candidates
In November 2019 as well, De Niro said that Democrat presidential hopeful Joe Biden “means well … he’s a guy who would do the right thing, make the right decision.” He also stated: “I like Bernie [Sanders]. I don’t know enough about what he does, but I know he appeals to a lot of people. And I like Elizabeth Warren too, but I don’t know how realistic it will be, to have them get everybody over the hump. I don’t know if people are ready for that. It’s too extreme.”
De Niro Says That Michael Bloomberg “Might be the One” to Defeat Trump
In a November 25, 2019 appearance on CBS’s Late Show with Stephen Colbert, De Niro said that the newly announced Democratic presidential hopeful Michael Bloomberg “might be the one” to defeat President Trump in 2020.
De Niro & Fellow Celebrities Use Coronavirus As Justification to Demand Climate Change Reforms
In May 2020, De Niro and a number of fellow movie stars and filmmakers signed their names as supporters of “No to a Return to Normal,” an editorial co-authored by actress Juliette Binoche and astrophysicist Aurélien Barrau, and published in France’s largest newspaper, Le Monde. The editorial claimed that the only way to save the natural environment from the ravages of global warming would be to enact a complete overhaul of the world’s economies, a measure that would require a dramatic curtailment of both “consumerism” and fossil-fuel use. Some excerpts from the editorial:
- “The Covid-19 pandemic is a tragedy. This crisis, however, has an upside in giving us the chance to examine what is essential. The ongoing ecological catastrophe is a ‘meta-crisis’: the massive extinction of life on Earth is no longer in doubt, and all indicators point to a direct existential threat. Unlike a pandemic, however serious it may be, it’s a question of a global ecological collapse whose effects will be immeasurable.”
- “Consumerism has led us to deny the value of life itself: that of plants, that of animals, and that of a large number of human beings. Pollution, climate change, and the destruction of natural spaces has brought the world to a breaking point. For these reasons, along with growing social inequalities, we believe it is unthinkable to ‘go back to normal.’”
Other signatories included such notables as Madonna, Barbra Streisand, Jane Fonda, Joaquin Phoenix, Adam Driver, Cate Blanchett, Rooney Mara, Penelope Cruz, Javier Bardem, Jeremy Irons, Willem Dafoe, Alfonso Cuaron, Spike Jonze, Pedro Almodovar, and Alejandro G. Inarritu.
De Niro Praises Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Coronavirus Response
During a May 6, 2020 virtual interview with comedian Stephen Colbert on CBS’s The Late Show, De Niro praised New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for the “presidential” manner in which he had handled the coronavirus pandemic in his state. “He’s doing what a president should do,” the actor said. Colbert then asked, “Could you see ‘President’ Cuomo?” “Yes I could see it,” De Niro replied, describing Cuomo as an excellent alternative to Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden in the event that the latter should be forced to withdraw from the race. “I want everything to go well for Biden,” De Niro explained. “[But] at least we have a person [Cuomo] who is very capable backup, if you will. Not vice president. But if something would change, God forbid nothing will change. He’s [Cuomo is] doing a great job. He’s doing what any president should do.”
De Niro’s Nobu Restaurants & Hotels Took 14 Coronavirus Relief Program Loans Worth Millions of Dollars
As of July 2020, Nobu — a high-end restaurant and hotel chain co-founded and financially backed by De Niro — had already taken 14 separate loans from the Trump Administration’s Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), a loan initiative meant to help keep small businesses financially afloat while the coronavirus pandemic was ravaging the American economy. The total value of those 14 loans was somewhere between $11 million and $28 million, making Nobu one of the largest beneficiaries of the PPP. At the time when Nobu applied for those loans, De Niro had a net worth of approximately $500 million, while Nobuyuki “Nobu” Matsuhisa — the celebrity chef and owner of the restaurant chain — had a net worth of $200 million.
De Niro’s Contempt for Donald Trump & His Supporters
- In an outtake from an October 2016 get-out-the-vote public service announcement, De Niro said of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump: “I mean, he’s so blatantly stupid. He’s a punk, he’s a dog, he’s a pig, he’s a con, he’s a bullshit artist, a mutt who doesn’t know what he’s talking about, doesn’t do his homework, doesn’t care, thinks he’s gaming society, doesn’t pay his taxes. He’s an embarrassment to this country. He talks [about] how he wants to punch people in the face. I’d like to punch him in the face.”
- In October 2016, De Niro was asked what question he might like to ask of Trump if the opportunity were to present itself, and he replied: “I don’t even know what kind of question to ask him because he’s so stupid. There’s nothing to talk about.”
- At a November 3, 2016 charity gala in Hollywood – just 5 days before Election Day — De Niro refused to pose for a photograph with fellow actor and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, when the latter repeatedly refused to answer De Niro’s questions regarding whom Schwarzenegger planned to support for U.S. President. “If you’re supporting Trump, I want nothing to do with you,” De Niro told him. “If you’re not part of the solution, then you’re part of the problem.”
- Four days after Trump’s election victory over Hillary Clinton, De Niro said on November 12, 2016: “I feel like I did after 9/11.”
- In an April 2017 interview on Fox 5’s Good Day New York, De Niro said that President Trump was a “mutt” who had already “sullied” and “debased” the presidency during his short time in office. “It’s just beyond surreal what this guy has done,” De Niro added.
- In an August 2017 interview with Deadline, De Niro said of Trump: “He’s dangerous as it is. He’s terrible, and a flat-out blatant racist and doubling down on that, and it’s good that he does because he’s going to sink himself.” Regarding the upcoming 69th annual Emmy Awards which were scheduled for September 17, De Niro said he wanted the “theme” of the event to be a relentless barrage of mockery and condemnation aimed at Trump. “[W]e’re at a crisis in this country with this fool, who never should have gotten into the position that he’s in,” the actor added.
- In a September 2017 appearance on CNN, De Niro condemned President Trump and his administration for failing to affirmatively blame climate change for the devastation caused by the recent Hurricane Irma. Said the actor: “Well, I think we all know the feeling from the White House, that they’re not too in favor of the idea of global warming, so we have to deal with that. But people will deal with it because no matter what the White House wants to do, the world sees it. There are changes. And we’re not certainly helping it by ignoring it. We [humans], at the least, are exacerbating the situation. And for the administration to turn their back on that is disgusting.”
- During an October 2017 speech at the annual Hudson River Park Gala in New York City, De Niro described President Trump as a “lowlife.” He also issued a call for banning the president from sitting on a particular local park bench dedicated to De Niro. Said the actor: “One of my pleasures will be keeping people off my bench who don’t deserve a view of the park, like Donald Trump. Fuck you, Donald Trump. It’s a horror with this motherfucker.”
- At a March 2018 charity event in Hollywood, De Niro called President Trump “an idiot” who “lacks any sense of humanity or compassion.”
- While presenting actress Meryl Streep with a “Best Actress” award at the National Board of Review’s annual Awards Gala on January 9, 2018, De Niro went off script to characterize President Trump as a “fucking fool,” a “fucking idiot,” the “baby-in-chief,” and the “jerk-off-in-chief.”
- At the 17th annual Tribeca Film Festival in April 2018, De Niro said to the reporters in attendance: “The country has had a bad year, and you — the press – have taken a lot of hits. America is being run by a madman who wouldn’t recognize the truth if it came inside a bucket of his beloved Colonel Sanders Fried Chicken. When he doesn’t like what he hears, he dismisses it by saying it’s un-American and damning it as ‘fake news.’ But we know the truth. All thinking people do.” “Your job is difficult enough without being attacked by our Lowlife-in-Chief,” De Niro added. “The press has done an admirable job this past year. We’re looking at journalists as our saviors, in the same way we used to look at our political leaders.”
- At the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s annual Chaplin Award Gala on April 30, 2018 in New York, De Niro stated that the members of President Trump’s Administration deserved the vicious mockery that comedienne Michelle Wolf had aimed at them during the recent White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner. “There was a lot of truth in Michelle Wolf’s jokes, and the bullies and the liars are still intimidated by the strength and the truth,” said De Niro. “Where we run into trouble is when we allow the bullies and liars to dictate the conversation.”
- At a June 2018 New York ceremony for high-school student recipients of the Rosemary Breslin “American Writer Award,” De Niro said: “So what about the truth? What does the truth even mean today? I mean, if you’re Donald Trump it doesn’t mean anything. If you’re cowardly Republican enablers in Congress you don’t let the truth stand in the way of pathetically clinging to power. Our country is led by a president who believes he can make up his own truth. And we have a word for that — bullshit. For example, you might say, as have many professionals, that Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of discharging duties of the President of the United States. That he’s afflicted with a narcissistic personality disorder. That he’s a congenital liar. A mean-spirited, soulless, amoral, abusive con-artist son of a bitch. Fuck Donald Trump. And I say this, ’cause I am not political, but I am now. You guys are the future. […] We’re in a dangerous situation. You know with Hitler, with other despots, people didn’t take them seriously, they laughed at them. And then what happened, they turned around and it was too late. We can’t let that happen in this country, and you guys are the ones to do it.”
- While speaking onstage at the Tony Awards ceremony on June 10, 2018, De Niro said the phrase “Fuck Trump” multiple times. Before presenting one award, for example, he announced: “I’m going to say one thing: ‘Fuck Trump.’ It’s no longer ‘Down with Trump.’ It’s ‘Fuck Trump.’”
- While presenting comedian Billy Crystal with the Friars Club’s entertainment icon award in November 2018, De Niro, invoking his previous “Fuck Trump” exclamations, yelled: “Fuck Crystal.” He then added immediately, “I just get so upset with that jerkoff in the White House,” a statement that elicited boos from the crowd. “Boo is right! Down with this motherfucker!” De Niro responded, describing Trump as “a dangerous buffoon-in-chief.”
- In December 2018, De Niro told CNN: “I just, you know, I know what kind of person this guy [Trump] is. He’s a New Yorker who I never would want to meet. Never want to meet him, and now he’s president, and the reason I wouldn’t want to meet him is because of the kind of person he is.”
- In an interview published by The New Yorker on December 30, 2018, De Niro said of Trump: “He thinks he’s a mobster (emphasis in original). He’s a mutt. And I’ve said that before. I’ve said it publicly. And everything that he says about other people—that they’re losers, that they’re this and that, every terrible thing he says—he’s really saying about himself. I don’t know what his parents did, I don’t know how they treated him, whatever, but it’s all projection.” De Niro also said that Trump’s performance as president thus far had “been worse than I ever could think. Cause he has no plan. He has no center whatsoever. He even gives gangsters a bad name. Cause a gangster will give you his word and will pride himself—or herself. He [Trump] doesn’t even understand that kind of logic. He thinks he’s slick and all that. There’s something wrong with him mentally.”
- In a January 2019 interview with The Guardian’s David Smith, De Niro claimed that he had initially given Trump the benefit of the doubt at the start of his presidency, but that his subsequent actions showed him to a loathsome character: “When you see someone like [Trump] becoming president, I thought, well, OK, let’s see what he does – maybe he’ll change. But he just got worse. It showed me that he is a real racist. I thought maybe as a New Yorker he understands the diversity in the city but he’s as bad as I thought he was before – and much worse. It’s a shame. It’s a bad thing in this country.”
- In that same January 2019 interview with The Guardian’s David Smith, De Niro also made the following remarks about Trump: (a) “He’s a con artist. He’s a huckster. He’s a scam artist. And what bothers me is that people don’t see that. I think that [the television program] The Apprentice had a lot to do with that, which I never saw but once, maybe. It’s all smoke and mirrors, it’s all bullshit.” (b) “The things that Trump has done; if Obama had done one fiftieth, they’d be all over him. That’s why I feel that Democrats have to be more aggressive. You’ve got to stand up, you can’t be so gentlemanly all the time because you’ve just got to say: ‘Sorry, I’m nice to a point, then I’ve got to push back.’ You have to fight fire with fire. You’ve got to say: ‘I’m sorry – let’s call a spade a spade. You are who you are and we’ve got to confront you at your own game and that’s what’s needed.’ You can do it in a nice way but you have to be hard and tough about it.” (c) “He has no substance. I don’t know how people fall for it. He’s just a big blowhard. But it ain’t over till it’s over as far as I’m concerned with a guy like him because he’s a dirty player.”
- Also in the January 2019 interview with The Guardian’s David Smith, De Niro, when asked if he considered Trump to be a white supremacist, responded instantly: “Yes.” When he was then asked if he thought Trump was a fascist, the actor replied: “I guess that’s what it leads to. If he had his way, we’d wind up in a very bad state in this country. I mean, the way I understand it, they laughed at Hitler. They all look funny. Hitler looked funny, Mussolini looked funny and other dictators and despots look funny.”
- In an April 2019 interview, De Niro said he considered it his “civic duty” to appear on Saturday Night Live and portray special counsel Robert Mueller, who had headed a massive investigation that ultimately found no evidence whatsoever of any collusion between Trump and Russian operatives during the 2016 presidential election season. The actor also said that he had fantasies about Mueller sending Trump to prison. “I consider it my civic duty to do that part — just to be there because [Mueller] doesn’t say much, but he doesn’t have to. It’s that simple. I might even be happier the day that Mueller puts him in handcuffs, takes him in an orange jumpsuit and puts him away for a long time.” De Niro further claimed, without evidence, that Attorney General William Barr had covered up details in the Mueller report that reflected negatively on Trump, describing Barr’s alleged actions as “pathetic.”
- In an April 19, 2019 airing of The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, De Niro, to the delight of the audience, described his fantasy of handcuffing President Trump and “tak[ing] him away in an orange jumpsuit.” “We have a wannabe gangster in the White House now,” the actor added. “Even gangsters have morals; they have ethics, they have a code, and you know, when you give somebody your word that’s all you have is your word, especially in that world. This guy, he doesn’t even know what that means.”
- At comedienne Samantha Bee’s Not the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington D.C. on April 28, 2019 — an event whose purpose was to rival the real Correspondents’ Dinner — De Niro said: “I’m happy to stand with Samantha Bee tonight to support the First Amendment – the right of the president to be a relentless and unrepentant, lying scumbag, the right of his supporters to not give a shit, and our right to do something about it.”
- At the American Icon Awards at the Beverly Wilshire Four Seasons Hotel on May 19, 2019, De Niro delivered a profanity-laced tirade against President Trump that elicited boos from the crowd. “You didn’t think you were gonna get away without a ‘Fuck Trump’ moment, did you?” he asked. “The individual who currently purports to lead America is not worthy of any tribute. Unless you think of his impeachment and imprisonment as a sort of tribute. Now that’s how you can make America great again.”
- In June 2019, De Niro led a cast of celebrities in a video wherein they: (a) falsely claimed that Robert Mueller’s special counsel report contained evidence that Trump had colluded with Russia in 2016, and (b) demanded that Trump and members of his Administration be forced to testify before Congress. Among the other celebrities who appeared in the video were Martin Sheen, Christine Lahti, Laurence Fishburne, Stephen King, Sophia Bush, Kendrick Sampson, Rosie Perez, and Rob Reiner. Some key excerpts from the video: “In 2016 the Russian government attacked our democracy. They interfered in the presidential election in sweeping and systematic fashion. They hacked emails, spread lies on social media, and made hundreds of contacts with the Trump campaign. All as a part of a massive covert operation to help Donald Trump become president. […] Mueller found plenty of evidence of collusion. […] Trump sided with a hostile enemy power against the United States. He colluded with Russia and compromised our democracy. All this is in the report. Please just read it for yourself. Then demand that Trump and members of his campaign and Administration come before Congress and testify in public under oath, so that Trump may be held accountable. Donald Trump, if you are listening, on behalf of the American people we will hold you accountable because no one, no one, no one, not even the president of the United States, is above the law.”
- In an interview published by Variety magazine on October 1, 2019, De Niro said: “[Trump] calls Washington a swamp because all he knows is a swamp. He’s a classic hustler and a scam artist. He has no morals. No ethics. If people don’t wake up and he gets reelected, it’s going to be very, very bad. Anybody who feels that way should say it. If you wait to say something, before you know it the dictators and despots come to power.”
- In an October 2019 interview interview with British GQ, De Niro said of President Trump: “He’s beyond a horrible person. I went on television the day after he was elected and I said, ‘I’m willing to give him the beneﬁt of the doubt,’ But he’s worse than we ever thought he would be. He’s an idiot. He’s a fool. He’s a buffoon. He’s silly. He’s tacky. He’s dangerous.” Asked if Trump had “blood on his hands” for a recent mass shooting in El, Paso, Texas, where the gunman was alleged to have harbored anti-immigrant views, De Niro replied: “Yeah. I think he does. And everyone is realizing that now, more and more. It’s so preposterous that the NRA has a grip on the Republicans. It’s all about money. They’re beyond shame. Those [gunmen] are crazy people, but they’re inspired by Trump and what he’s allowed. It’s all subtle but it’s all there. He’s allowed it. He starts it. He encourages it.”
- On November 9, 2019, De Niro told MSNBC’s Joy Reid that the Democrats’ impeachment of President Trump should proceed swiftly and aggressively. “If we don’t go through [with] this impeachment inquiry, we’re letting him get away with something…. we just gotta move forward and take our chances,” said the actor. “He has done something wrong. He has to pay for that.”
- Speaking to The New York Times in December 2019, De Niro said that he would never agree to portray Trump in any acting role, because he viewed Trump as an “awful person” with “nothing redeemable about him.” “The president is supposed to set an example of trying to do the right thing,” the actor elaborated. “Not be a nasty little bitch. Because that’s what he is. He’s a petulant little punk. There’s not one thing that I see in him or his family, not any redeeming qualities. They’re out on the take. It’s like a gangster family.” Regarding Trump’s political supporters, De Niro said: “Trump has people who follow him who are crazy and want to do crazy things.”
- In a December 2019 appearance on Michael Moore‘s podcast, Rumble with Michael Moore, De Niro said of Trump and his supporters: (a) “There has not been one thing about this person that has been redeeming, as far as I can see. Nothing. For the Republicans who have fallen in line with him, I don’t understand it. It’s a disgrace. It’s beyond a disgrace. Shame on them. Shame on all of them.” (b) “Pigs have dignity. He has no dignity. He is a disgrace to the human race.” (c) “I’d like to see a bag of shit right in his face. Hit him right in the face like that, and let the picture go all over the world.” (d) “He needs to be humiliated. He needs to be confronted and humiliated by whoever his opponent is, his political opponent.”
- During a December 16, 2019 broadcast of ABC’s The View, De Niro said the following about President Trump’s impeachment: “I think no matter what — no matter what happens, which we know probably in the Senate he won’t get convicted or whatever, but we have to do this. It’s— we have to go through the motions. Symbolically it means something. It’s a taint on his presidency. More than a taint, it’s a stain. One that he deeply deserves. So yes. We will go through it and take our chances.”
- During that same December 16, 2019 episode of The View, co-host Joy Behar said to De Niro: “You would never play Trump because he has no redeeming qualities whatsoever…You have played some of the most really unredeemable characters; Travis Bickle was a psychopathic in Taxi Driver. Jake LaMotta who beat his wife in Raging Bull. Is Trump worse than they are?” De Niro answered: “To me, he is. Because he has no understanding that I can see of the outside world other than anything around him, he has no idea of what his purpose in life as the president should be, and that is to pull the country together, to be for the people, to heal wounds, not to open them up and pour salt on them. I always say he’s a lowlife. He’s a lowlife. And he knows he’s a lowlife. He knows. Everything he projects about negative things on individuals, on situations, on institutions, he’s saying about himself.” Added De Niro: “We’re at a crossroads, as we all know. He would want to get elected a third term. He joked about it. He would want to be king for life. All these things are true. We see that. We know that about him now. This guy has got to be taken seriously, and he’s got to be taken out of office.”
- During a virtual interview with comedian Stephen Colbert on CBS’s The Late Show on May 6, 2020, De Niro criticized Trump’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic: “We of course could have survived this much better if, uh, ‘idiot’ had done the right thing, and listened and heeded all the warnings. There were many, many warnings. And we’re all paying for it now. It would have been bad in some ways but never like this. It’s appalling. It’s appalling.”
- Appearing on BBC’s Newsnight on May 12, 2020, De Niro denounced President Trump’s response to the Chinese coronavirus pandemic: “It’s appalling. He wants to be reelected. He doesn’t even care about how many people die. […] He doesn’t care for those people, and the people he pretends to care about are the people he has the most disdain for, because he could care less about them.”
- In a September 2020 interview with Yahoo Entertainment, De Niro described Trump as a “criminal” who would turn the United States into a fascist nation if he were to win a second term in the upcoming November presidential election. “[Trump is] a criminal who will stop at nothing [and] do anything to win. We have to win it. Everybody has to join. We have to speak out and win this fight, period. We can’t let this go further. If [he gets] another four years, we’re into fascism, American-style, period.” Moreover, De Niro described Trump’s voter base as a cult of personality: “It’s like they say it’s a ‘cult,’ and it is. And they don’t care what this person does. But they will care when they are directly affected by his behavior and the behavior of his enablers.”
- During a November 10, 2020 appearance on MSNBC, De Niro accused President Trump of appealing to his voter base by means of a strategy pioneered by fascist dictators: “It’s the same playbook as Mussolini, as Hitler, as a dictator, wannabe dictators. It’s what they’re going to do for the people, make Germany great again, make Italy great again, make America great again. It’s all appealing to the worst prejudices, the worst weaknesses of the public, and instead of leading them and guiding them and being someone that they can look up to. … I was so angry and so enraged and confounded that he would actually behave the way he did, and that people bought it.”
Further Reading: “Robert De Niro” (Biography.com).