De Niro calls out Trump as a 'mobster' -- and Republicans understand why
Composite image. Robert De Niro as Frank Sheeran in ‘The Irishman’ and President Donald Trump (screengrabs)

Legendary actor Robert De Niro seems like someone who knows a thing or two about mobsters, even though he was just acting as one when he played a young Don Corleone in Godfather 2.

So it was with an air of authority that De Niro referred to the Trumps as “a mob family” in an appearance Friday on “The View.” De Niro was asked by View co-host Sunny Hostin about whatever happened to Rudy Guiliani.

“He’s the one who was prosecuting under the RICO Act, the way I understand it,” De Niro said. “And now he’s representing a mob family. It’s crazy ... I don’t know what happened to him. I feel bad for him.”

Added De Niro: ““I can’t understand because it's just as easy to say ‘Look, I can’t buy into this, I can’t go along with this. It’s over, I’m out! “And he’d have so much respect and people would hire him, and want to hire him, and he’s going this other way, it’s just nuts.”

You can see De Niro’s comments at this tweet from the View:

Whatever Guiliani’s reasons for having allowed his life to melt like dripping hair dye into a pit of comedic darkness--his own acting career on the latest “Borat” film having drawn mixed reviews, at best--it is fairly clear why Republican politicians continue to fear Donald Trump as a mobster.

He is one. For certain, Trump is a crime boss in a political sense. Time and indictments will tell if he’s more.

Consider the case of Governor Mike DeWine, one of the few Republicans to muster the courage to call upon Trump to concede his decisive defeat to President-elect Joe Biden. No, that shouldn’t take courage, but consider DeWine’s political life since.

Last Sunday, DeWine had this to say to CNN’s State of the Union:

“It's clear that, certainly, based on what we know now, that Joe Biden is the president-elect. And that transition, for the country's sake, it's important for a normal transition to start through," DeWine said. "And the president can go on his other track and his legal track. We should respect that, but we also need to begin that process.”

So how has that worked out politically? It turns out DeWine received a little payback.

Here’s what Trump tweeted the next day about DeWine’s upcoming 2020 reelection bid, apparently to the liking of 220,000 followers:

Even assuming many of those followers are bots, having Trump call out his raging base to challenge you in a primary isn’t the best way for a Republican governor to spend his Monday. And coincidentally, or not, other bad things continued happening to DeWine.

Three days later, legislators of DeWine’s own Republican Party put the finishing touches on a bill to limit on Senate Bill 311, “which blocks state health officials from ordering a mass quarantine of residents who are not exposed or have not been exposed to a disease. It also allows the General Assembly to rescind quarantine and isolation orders by passing a concurrent resolution,” reports Spectrum News 1 in Columbus.

To be clear, the bill has been in the works for some time, and Republicans had criticized DeWine last spring when he was among the first governors to issue stay-at-home orders over the pandemic. But there’s little doubt that DeWine having taken on Trump made it easier for to receive broadsides like this, as reported by Spectrum:

"Anybody representing their citizens would have a moral obligation to override the governor's veto," says Representative Rep. Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County). "The governor always goes to a fear-mongering type of reaction and I'm just gonna say it because I think that's how you get things done. That's how you keep people compliant."

Speaking of keeping people compliant, Trump does that pretty well himself. Consider the sudden change of heart Republican Senator Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee had over comments she made live Friday night on ABC News. Journalist Juju Chang had asked if Blackburn had congratulated Biden and Vice-President-elect Kamala Harris.

"I have not spoken with the president-elect," Blackburn said. "We did have the vice president come to the floor, the vice president-elect come to the floor this week to cast a vote. I was presiding at the time. Didn't get to speak with her."

Apparently, someone on Team Blackburn shortly received an offer they couldn’t refuse. The Nashville Tennessean reported:

“Later Friday night, a spokesperson for Blackburn said the comment was a mistake and that Blackburn had "been very clear" on her position about the election outcome.

"’She simply misspoke — it's nothing more,’ said Abigail Sigler, a campaign spokesperson for Blackburn. Blackburn's Senate staff did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Sigler emailed to clarify after this story published.”

The message seems pretty clear: “Displease Don Donald at your own risk. It would be a shame if something happened to your political career.”