Donald Trump praises fictional serial killer Hannibal Lecter during the rally


WASHINGTON — Former President Donald Trump repeated a strange campaign-and-movie riff this weekend: Praise for a fictional cannibal and murderer, one of the most evil characters in the history of cinema.

Hannibal Lecter.

“The late, great Hannibal Lecter,” Trump said at a rally Saturday in Wildwood, N.J., referring to the psycho protagonist from the novel and Oscar-winning film “The Silence of the Lambs” as he discussed immigration policy.

Trump praised Lecter – played by Oscar-winning Anthony Hopkins in the 1991 film – as he attacked migrants staying illegally in the United States.

“Has anyone ever seen ‘The Silence of the Lambs’?” Trump told this to a crowd of supporters. “The late, great Hannibal Lecter. He’s a great man.’

Trump, who spoke in a mocking tone and did not appear to be serious, then referred to the film’s famous final scene in which Lecter follows his next victim through a busy street.

“I’m having dinner with an old friend,” Lecter’s character had just said in a phone conversation with new FBI agent Clarice Starling (played by Jodie Foster in another Oscar-winning performance).

At his rally in New Jersey, Trump said, “He often had a friend over for dinner. Remember the last scene? “Excuse me, I’m about to have dinner with a friend,” as this poor doctor walked by. ‘I’m about to have dinner with a friend.’”

Trump concluded his tribute by saying: “But Hannibal Lecter. Congratulations. The late, great Hannibal Lecter.”

It was unclear whether Trump was saying the United States should act like Hannibal Lecter, or if he was comparing some migrants to the crazed serial killer.

Trump has praised Lecter and The Silence of the Lambs in recent years, calling the latter one of his favorite films.

The former president has invoked Lecter as he repeated his wildly exaggerated claims that prisoners and mental patients are flooding the U.S. border. “That’s ‘Silence Of The Lambs;’ that’s Hannibal Lecter,” Trump said during the New Hampshire primary. “Have you ever heard of Hannibal Lecter? They’re dropping into our country. Hannibal Lecter is coming.”

At a 2023 event in Iowa, Trump confused the character with Hopkins, saying, “Hannibal Lecter, how great an actor was he?” The former president also incorrectly quoted the actor as saying he loved Trump, although there is no record of such a comment ever being made.

Trump’s tribute on Saturday in New Jersey to a movie character assassin drew criticism from his opponents.

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