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Tim Kaine says Trump has "authoritarian tendencies"

FILE - In this Sept. 6, 2016 file photo, Democratic vice presidential candidate, Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va. speaks in Wilmington, N.C. The morning after Kaine was named the Democratic vice presidential nominee, his first stop wasn’t a rally or a swing state meet-and-greet.

Chuck Burton, AP

Former Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine said that President Donald Trump had “authoritarian tendencies” on Tuesday. 

“People don’t like people who have authoritarian tendencies and sadly our President and some of his advisors do,” the Virginia Senator told reporters on Capitol Hill. “They don’t like criticism, they don’t like peaceful protest.”

Kaine made those comments to reporters right after the Senate voted to confirm Betsy DeVos as the next education secretary in a 51-50 vote with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie breaking vote.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Kaine would often say that “Donald Trump as commander-in-chief scares me to death” and slam Trump for what the Virginia Senator described as his “bizarre fascination with strongmen and authoritarian leaders.” But his latest comments represent an escalation for the typically mild-mannered Senator.

Some influential writers and pundits have warned about the rise of authoritarianism in the United States throughout the 2016 presidential campaign and Trump’s young presidency, but it’s an assertion that that few members of Congress have taken up until now.

Progressive firebrand and former Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders suggested in a Sunday interview with CNN that Trump was moving the country in a “very authoritarian direction.”  

“He’s going after all the checks and balances. But checks and balances are there for a reason,” Kaine warned on Tuesday alluding to Trump’s attacks against the media, protesters, and several judges.

“This is a time where the checks and balances, where are system is being tested,” he observed before offering his prediction. “I think you’re going to see the system be vindicated.”