Fact Check

No Proof Trump Said Hitler 'Did Some Good Things'

Viral posts claimed the former president reportedly praised the Nazi leader.

Published May 10, 2024

 (Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons)
Image courtesy of Gage Skidmore/Wikimedia Commons
Claim:
Former U.S. President Donald Trump said Adolf Hitler "did some good things."
Context

The quote originated with an anecdote told by Gen. John Kelly, a Trump chief of staff, but its authenticity has more than once been denied by Trump's spokespersons. Without further corroboration from witnesses or audio or video recordings, we are unable to confirm whether Trump actually made such a remark.

In 2024, a number of viral posts claimed that former U.S. President Donald Trump praised Adolf Hitler, including a pro-Joe Biden account that quoted Trump's former chief of staff as the source of this information.?


(X user @BidenHQ)

The posts also?variably claimed that Trump said "Hitler did a lot of great things, I imagine myself being a guy like him," or simply, "Hitler did some good things."?


(X user @insiderfilms1)


(X user @GlobalEyeNews)

While Trump did not say, based on any sources we could find, that Hitler did "great things" or "I imagine myself like him," a secondhand account from a former staff member claimed that Trump did say Hitler did "some good things." However, we have no firsthand corroboration of this through other witnesses or audio or video footage. As such, we rate this claim as "Unproven."

That original, secondhand?source of the claim was Trump's second chief of staff, Gen. John Kelly, who shared the anecdote with CNN correspondent Jim Sciutto for the latter's?book "The Return of Great Powers," which was released in March 2024. ?

Kelly and other former senior advisers told Sciutto that Trump would praise despots in private and on the campaign trail. According to Kelly:

He said, "Well, but Hitler did some good things." I said, "Well, what?" And he said, "Well, [Hitler] rebuilt the economy." But what did he do with that rebuilt economy? He turned it against his own people and against the world. And I said, "Sir, you can never say anything good about the guy. Nothing." I mean, Mussolini was a great guy in comparison.

Kelly added that Trump lamented how Hitler managed to keep his senior staff's loyalty, while Trump could not. "He would ask about the loyalty issues and about how, when I pointed out to him the German generals as a group were not loyal to him, and in fact tried to assassinate him a few times, and he didn't know that," Kelly said. "He truly believed, when he brought us generals in, that we would be loyal — that we would do anything he wanted us to do."

When we asked Trump's 2024 campaign spokesperson, Steven Cheung, about Kelly's claims, Cheung didn't comment on the specifics but spoke?dismissively of Kelly:?

John Kelly is a loser who is trying to sell a book that either belongs in the discount bargain bin in the fiction section of the bookstore or should be repurposed as toilet paper.

He has completely beclowned himself and suffers from a severe case of Trump Derangement Syndrome. He needs to seek professional help because his hatred is consuming his empty and pathetic life.

Before that, the claim that Trump praised Hitler had emerged in a 2021 story. Kelly told the anecdote to journalist Michael Bender for his book, "Frankly, We Did Win This Election: The Inside Story of How Trump Lost." According to Bender, Kelly said?Trump praised Hitler during a 2018 conversation while on a trip to Paris to mark the World War I armistice.?

At that time, Trump's spokesperson Liz Harrington denied the conversation ever happened. "This is totally false. President Trump never said this. It is made-up fake news, probably by a general who was incompetent and was fired," she said.?

In any case, Trump has a demonstrated history of expressing admiration for autocrats. John Bolton, who was national security adviser under Trump, told Sciutto,?"He views himself as a big guy. He likes dealing with other big guys, and big guys like Erdogan in Turkey get to put people in jail and you don't have to ask anybody's permission. He kind of likes that."

In early March 2024, Trump met with Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orbán, whom conservative populists have praised for his restrictions on immigration and LGBTQ+ rights. During his visit to the U.S., Orbán also spoke at The Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank. In footage shared by Orbán, Trump could be heard praising the autocrat and calling him "the boss."

Sources

Sciutto, Jim. "Former Advisers Sound the Alarm That Trump Praises Despots in Private and on the Campaign Trail." CNN, 11 March 2024, https://www.cnn.com/2024/03/11/politics/trump-despots-advisers-sound-alarm/index.html. Accessed 15 March 2024.?

"Trump Meets with Hungary's Leader, Viktor Orbán, Continuing His Embrace of Autocrats." AP News, 8 March 2024, https://apnews.com/article/trump-orban-hungary-conservatives-autocrats-biden-97d6998f747d3543f2f1df069b0f9165.?Accessed 15 March 2024.?

Valentine, Catherine and Chandelis Duster. "Trump Allegedly Praised Hitler as Doing 'a Lot of Good Things,' New Book Claims | CNN Politics." CNN, 7 July 2021, https://www.cnn.com/2021/07/07/politics/donald-trump-adolf-hitler-book-claims/index.html. Accessed 15 March 2024.?

Nur Nasreen Ibrahim is a reporter with experience working in television, international news coverage, fact checking, and creative writing.