Fact Check

Did De Niro Call Former President Trump an 'Evil' 'Wannabe Tough Guy' with 'No Morals or Ethics'?

In a resurfaced statement read at The New Republic Stop Trump Summit, actor De Niro labeled Trump "evil," with “no regard for anyone but himself."

Published Feb. 28, 2024

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Claim:
A statement by actor Robert De Niro read aloud at The New Republic Stop Trump Summit in late 2023 referred to former U.S. President Donald Trump as "evil."

It's no secret that Academy Award-winner Robert De Niro is not a fan of former president and fellow New Yorker Donald Trump. And never one to mince words, De Niro made his feelings clear at an event held in late 2023 by progressive media outlet The New Republic (TNR), even though the screen acting legend wasn't there in person.

Amid claims circulating on social media platforms and news outlets in 2024 purportedly detailing De Niro's remarks that were read aloud last year at TNR Stop Trump Summit, it is imperative to verify the accuracy of the statements.

So, let's unpack this claim. 

First off, a tweet posted on Feb. 27, 2024, to X, formerly Twitter, from the account named @CalltoActivism, ignited the online chatter, alleging De Niro's damning words toward Trump at the Stop Trump Summit. But tweets aren't exactly gospel truth, so, we dove deeper.

The viral tweet asserted that De Niro, 80, referred to Trump as "evil" among other things during the Stop Trump Summit, which took place Oct. 11, 2023, in New York City. 

According to multiple reports, De Niro, who did not attend the event due to a prior COVID-19 diagnosis, wrote a lengthy statement denouncing Trump that was read aloud by former Trump administration official Miles Taylor, who served in the U.S. Department of Homeland Security from 2017 to 2019.

TNR reported De Niro's full statement as follows:

I'm sorry I couldn't be with you today. A few days ago, I came down with a heavy case of Covid. I was looking forward to being with you, hearing the other speakers, and speaking with Miles. I first encountered Miles when he was still "Anonymous." Through his writing, commentary, and books, I've come to admire his intelligence and courage. I'm grateful that he's agreed to be my voice today.

I am with you in spirit. I am watching. This is an important conversation. What The New Republic is doing in this "Stop Trump Summit"—what you all are doing here today—can help determine our future.

I've spent a lot of time studying bad men. I've examined their characteristics, their mannerisms, the utter banality of their cruelty. Yet there's something different about Donald Trump. When I look at him, I don't see a bad man. Truly.

I see an evil one.

Over the years, I've met gangsters here and there. This guy tries to be one, but he can't quite pull it off. There's such a thing as "honor among thieves." Yes, even criminals usually have a sense of right and wrong. Whether they do the right thing or not is a different story—but—they have a moral code, however warped.

Donald Trump does not. He's a wannabe tough guy with no morals or ethics. No sense of right or wrong. No regard for anyone but himself—not the people he was supposed to lead and protect, not the people he does business with, not the people who follow him, blindly and loyally, not even the people who consider themselves his "friends." He has contempt for all of them.

We New Yorkers got to know him over the years that he poisoned the atmosphere and littered our city with monuments to his ego. We knew first hand that this was someone who should never be considered for leadership. We tried to warn the world in 2016.

The repercussions of his turbulent presidency divided America and rattled New York City beyond imagination. Remember how we were jolted by crisis in early 2020, as a virus swept the world. We lived with Donald Trump's bombastic behavior every day on the national stage, and we suffered as we saw our neighbors piling up in body bags.

The man who was supposed to protect this country put it in peril, because of his recklessness and impulsiveness. It was like an abusive father ruling the family by fear and violent behavior. That was the consequence of New York's warning getting ignored. Next time, we know it will be worse.

Make no mistake: the twice-impeached, four-time indicted Donald Trump is still a fool. But we can't let our fellow Americans write him off like one. Evil thrives in the shadow of dismissive mockery, which is why we must take the danger of Donald Trump very seriously.

So today we issue another warning. From this place where Abraham Lincoln spoke—right here in the beating heart of New York—to the rest of America:

This is our last chance.

Democracy won't survive the return of a wannabe dictator.

And it won't overcome evil if we are divided.

So what do we do about it? I know I'm preaching to the choir here. What we're doing today is valuable, but we have to take today into tomorrow—take it outside these walls. We have to reach out to the half of our country who have ignored the hazards of Trump and, for whatever reason, support elevating him back into the White House. They're not stupid, and we must not condemn them for making a stupid choice. Our future doesn't just depend on us. It depends on them.

Let's reach out to Trump's followers with respect. Let's not talk about "democracy." "Democracy" may be our holy grail, but to others it is just a word, a concept, and in their embrace of Trump, they've already turned their backs on it. Let's talk about right and wrong. Let's talk about humanity. Let's talk about kindness. Security for our world. Safety for our families. Decency. Let's welcome them back. We won't get them all, but we can get enough to end the nightmare of Trump, and fulfill the mission of this "Stop Trump Summit."

Thank you.

Snopes reached out to De Niro's representatives requesting comment regarding the written statement but have yet to hear back. 

Subsequent articles from reputable sources also reported on De Niro's 2023 comments about Trump, including The GuardianYahoo EntertainmentThe Hill and HuffPost. Moreover, an article by TNR underscored De Niro's sentiment by quoting him as saying, "Trump isn't just a bad guy, he's evil," emphasizing the "Killers of the Flower Moon" star's condemnation of Trump's character and actions.

This isn't the first time De Niro has let loose on Trump. As far back as 2016, the actor called the then-Republican presidential nominee a "punk," "a dog," and "a pig" as part of an interview filmed for the #VoteYourFuture initiative encouraging U.S. citizens to vote. 

In summary, based on reporting from multiple news sources, the "Raging Bull" actor did indeed refer to Trump as "evil" and immoral during The New Republic Stop Trump Summit. The statements made in the viral tweet and reported by various news outlets are consistent with his written statement.

Sources

"Https://Twitter.Com/CalltoActivism/Status/1762630973319942495." X (Formerly Twitter), https://twitter.com/CalltoActivism/status/1762630973319942495. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

Kurtz, Judy. "De Niro Warns Democracy 'Won't Survive' Trump Reelection." The Hill, 12 Oct. 2023, https://thehill.com/blogs/in-the-know/4253058-de-niro-warns-democracy-wont-survive-trump-reelection/.

Otten, Tori, et al. "Robert De Niro Rips Donald Trump: He's 'Evil.'" The New Republic, 1 Nov. 2022. The New Republic, https://newrepublic.com/post/176175/robert-de-niro-trump-isnt-just-bad-guy-hes-evil.

Pulver, Andrew. "Robert De Niro: Trump Is 'Evil' and 'a Wannabe Tough Guy with No Morals or Ethics.'" The Guardian, 13 Oct. 2023. The Guardian, https://www.theguardian.com/film/2023/oct/13/robert-de-niro-trump-is-evil-and-a-wannabe-tough-guy-with-no-morals-or-ethics.

Robert De Niro on Trump: "I'd like to Punch Him in the Face." www.youtube.com, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=55fJ0FgPSQk. Accessed 28 Feb. 2024.

"Robert De Niro Slams Trump in Rousing Manifesto: 'I've Spent a Lot of Time Studying Bad Men' (Video)." Yahoo Entertainment, 12 Oct. 2023, https://www.yahoo.com/entertainment/robert-niro-slams-trump-rally-191001152.html.

"Robert De Niro Writes An Oscar-Worthy Manifesto About Donald Trump's 'Evil.'" HuffPost, 12 Oct. 2023, https://www.huffpost.com/entry/robert-de-niro-donald-trump-evil_n_6527e7abe4b0a32c15c1c75c.

Nikki Dobrin is based in Los Angeles and has previously worked at The Walt Disney Company, as well as written and edited for People, USA Today and The Hill.