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CNN’s Toobin Defends Trump on ‘Nationalist’ Uproar: ‘He Has a Legitimate Argument’

CNN’s Jeffrey Toobin has not been shy about calling out President Donald Trump for racist rhetoric in the past. But tonight, one segment after tearing into Trump’s rhetoric on the migrant caravan, he actually defended the president from people criticizing him for calling himself a nationalist.

“I’ve talked about Donald Trump’s racism since day one, starting with his lies about where Barack Obama was born,” he told Wolf Blitzer. “But I don’t think there’s anything wrong with the term nationalism, and I would hate to see it co-opted entirely by these reactionary forces.”

“I don’t think nationalism is just a code word for white people. Look, he does so much actual racism, I think we should criticize him for the actual racism rather than for what I think is an unfair criticism,” he added.

CNN White House Correspondent Kaitlan Collins shot back that the word has a negative connotation and there’s a reason people don’t generally say it. CNN’s Jeff Zeleny and Guardian reporter Sabrina Siddiqui respectively noted that it sounded like a dog whistle and that it’s hard for Trump to claim it was a message of economic nationalism.

Toobin again said, “I’m not exactly someone who has reflexive defense of Donald Trump, but I do think the term nationalism is one that is sufficiently broad that it can be used in polite company without an immediate association with racism.”

As he started to define it by saying “somebody who believes in the United States,” Collins shot back, “I believe in the United States! I’m not a nationalist. Hitler was a nationalist.”

“Oh, please. Come on,” Toobin said. “I mean, that term has not become like Hitler.”

He concluded by saying “there are so many legitimate grounds” to bash Trump on, but “this one is one where he has a legitimate argument.”

Watch above, via CNN.

[image via screengrab]

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