Robert De Niro has not taken the rise of President Donald Trump well.
Last summer, after Trump had accepted the Republican nomination, the actor called him “totally nuts,” adding “God help us.” Two months later, in a leaked “Get Out the Vote” campaign video, he added, “He talks how he’d like to punch people in the face? Well, I’d like to punch him in the face.”
The day after the election, De Niro admitted that he probably would not get the opportunity to sock Trump in the mouth, but his ire towards the 45th president of the United States has barely subsided since then. And it was on full display when he visited The View on Friday morning to promote his new film, The Comedian.
Asked by host Joy Behar about his threat of violence towards then-candidate Trump, De Niro explained, “I said that because he said that about somebody, that he would like to punch them in the face. How dare he say that to the crowd? How dare he say the things he does? Of course I want to punch him in the face.”
“It was only a symbolic thing, anyway. It wasn't like I was going to go find him and punch him in the face,” the actor clarified. “But he’s got to hear it. He’s got to hear that, you know, that’s how he makes people feel. It’s not good to feel that way. It’s not good to start that stuff up, but at the same time sometimes when people are bullies like that, that’s what you have to do to shut them up. Bully them back.”
De Niro was among the New York celebrities to gather outside Trump Tower on the eve of Inauguration Day and speak out against the incoming president. Alec Baldwin did his SNL impression for the crowd and De Niro decided to preempt any potential mean tweets from Trump by reading some of his own.
Less than two weeks after Trump had blasted Meryl Streep as the most “overrated” actress in Hollywood, De Niro read of himself, “De Niro should give back his Oscars. Voting was rigged. There’s only one true Raging Bull and that is Vladimir Putin.”
Before President Obama left office, he included De Niro in his final round of Presidential Medal of Freedom recipients. “I was honored to be honored,” he said on The View. “Obama was, to me, a great president. He tried to do what was right, and that’s all I can say.”
“When you have people going in there just to win—it’s not about winning, it’s about what’s right for the country, the people,” De Niro added, comparing Obama to Trump. “And we hear a lot of lip service about that, and even from Trump. But now is the time to see what he’s going to do. So far, it doesn’t look good.”