CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin accused President Donald Trump of racism in his comments to donors warning them of the far-left militants of Antifa.
Trump had spoken with evangelical leaders on Monday night and said Republicans' opponents are "violent," naming Antifa as one of the groups engaging in political violence. He warned Republican losses could lead to violence from groups like Antifa, whose members have participated in riots in the past, but Toobin said the comment was coded racism.
"Let's be clear also about what's going on here, the theme here is ‘I'm Donald Trump and I'll protect you from the scary black people,’" Toobin said. "Antifa is widely perceived as an African-American organization and this is just part of the same story of LeBron James and Don Lemon and Maxine Waters and the NFL players and the UCLA basketball players."
Antifa has claimed the mantel of resisting white supremacy and members wear black clothes and masks, but it is questionable whether it is "widely perceived as an African-American organization." It's a loose coalition of left-wing protesters without public membership, and media reports and images tend to show its members are primarily young and white.
Toobin, however, said Trump considers this a question of "black versus white," arguing that CNN commentators don't examine Trump's "racism" enough.
"This is about black versus white," Toobin said. "This is about Donald Trump's appeal to racism, and it just happens all the time and we never say it, we don't say it enough for what it is but that's what's going on here."
Senior editor of the Atlantic, Ron Brownstein, did not disagree with Toobin but said other issues were at play behind Trump's comments, saying Trump was waging a war against "blue America." Toobin said Trump's comments were nothing more than racial agitation.
"I don't know, Ron. I'm thinking it's just black people and brown people," Toobin replied.