Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) accused President Donald Trump of lying in an effort to undermine democracy and gather authoritarian powers for himself.
"What he wants, I think, is to end up as leader of a nation which has moved in a significant degree toward authoritarianism where the president of the United States has extraordinary powers, far more so than our Constitution has provided for or the values of the American people support," Sanders told The Guardian.
Sanders pointed to Rep. Lamar Smith (R-TX), the chairman of the House Science Committee, who urged Americans to get "unvarnished" news directly from the president instead of trusting the media.
"That is unprecedented in American history," Sanders said. "George Bush was a very conservative president, I opposed him every single day. But George Bush did not operate outside of mainstream American political values."
Sanders faulted the Democratic Party for ignoring the economic displacement of the working class to focus on Wall Street and liberal elites, which he said allowed a "phony billionaire" to win election to the White House.
"There needs to be a fundamental acknowledgement that the model of the Democratic party has been a horrific failure -- no ifs, buts and maybes," Sanders said. "Democrats have lost over 900 legislative seats in states all over this country. There are states where there is virtually no Democratic party at all. When an election takes place the Democrats can’t even put up a candidate for the US Senate. That’s how pathetic it is."
Those failures have left the Republican Party as the last defense against Trump's authoritarian ambitions, Sanders said.
"These are very scary times for the people of the United States and, because the Unites States is the most powerful country on Earth, for the whole word," he said. "The bad news, the very bad news is that we have a president who is a pathological liar."