Toobin: Trump's 'Personal Grievance' Is 'Precisely Consistent With the White Nationalist Agenda'

March 19th, 2019 10:18 PM

Following Friday's mosque shooting in New Zealand, the liberal media have not hesitated to portray President Trump as a white supremacist or a white nationalist. Their depiction of the President as a white nationalist continued on Monday's New Day, when CNN chief legal analyst Jeffrey Toobin described President Trump’s “personal grievance” as “precisely consistent with the white nationalist agenda.”

The discussion first focused on President Trump’s weekend tweetstorm, which guest co-host Erica Hill noted included “nothing” about “the massacre of 50 Muslims in New Zealand.”



Co-host John Berman pondered whether or not the President sent out all the aforementioned tweets were meant to “distract from the Mueller report” or “startle” the media and “continue to shatter the political norms that we’ve seen” before citing the concerns of George Conway and Bill Kristol about Trump's mental health. Berman declared that he was “not sure of those four what might be the most disturbing,” adding “the last might be.”

The topic turned to white supremacy and white nationalism when Hill played a clip of acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney unequivocally stating that “the President is not a white supremacist.” It came up again when Berman described the President’s tweets as “personal grievance.” At this point, Toobin declared “it’s personal grievance that is precisely consistent with the white nationalist agenda.”

Toobin attempted to clarify that “it’s not white nationalism” but still argued that “everything he says about immigrants, about immigration, about the wall, about, you know, the fact that there is no white nationalist problem is consistent with that view.”

Throughout the segment, political analyst David Gregory complained that President Trump was “not interested” in being a President of the entire country,” arguing that he is only interested in “leading a very narrow band of the country.” Based on their obsession with painting President Trump as a white nationalist and/or calling his mental health into question, it has become painfully obvious  that the media have no desire to represent the “entire country.” Instead, they only care about appealing to a “very narrow band of the country” known as #TheResistance.

A transcript of the relevant portion of Monday’s edition of New Day is below. Click “expand” to read more.

New Day With Alisyn Camerota and John Berman


07:09 a.m.

ERICA HILL: President Trump was outraged about a lot. How do we know? There was a whole lot of tweeting going on all weekend long. The President attacking, again, the late Senator John McCain, lashing out at SNL. We should point out it was a rerun of SNL. Defending a Fox News host who has been suspended for anti-Muslim comments. Nothing, though, about the massacre of 50 Muslims in New Zealand.

JOHN BERMAN: All right. Joining us now is Jeffrey Toobin, CNN Chief Legal Analyst; David Gregory, CNN Political Analyst; and Margaret Talev, CNN Political Analyst and Senior White House Correspondent for Bloomberg News. Can we throw up that full screen again? Can we… so we can see the volume that the President spewed out over the weekend? And David Gregory, I’ve been reading all the analysis from critics and also just political watchers over the weekend. There seem to be three strains of analysis here. You know, No. 1, he’s trying to distract from the Mueller report, which could be coming out this week. No. 2, Maggie Haberman noted this, that maybe he’s just trying to, to startle us and continue to shatter the political norms that we’ve seen. No. 3, George Conway and others, Bill Kristol, say this is an example of the President’s mental capacity, and he’s losing control. And I suppose there’s a fourth which is that, “Oh, this is just the way he is.” I’m not sure of those four what might be the most disturbing. And the last might be.

DAVID GREGORY: Right. Because there’s…there should be no willingness to accept a President who behaves this way as just kind of his normal behavior. And I, I think it’s far more intentional than that. I think that what we see, just that…what we put on the screen is indicative of something the President willfully has done since he became President to overwhelm the system, to overwhelm the news media, to start so many different discussions in different directions that there is this kind of overcapacity in the system. He’s also not interested, really, in being a President of the entire country. He’s interested in a very narrow argument about trashing liberals and political correctness; not in lifting up the values of the country and, really, the values of the presidency. That’s something you see time and time again. So he just likes to position himself as a street fighter, kind of a, a Twitter warrior, frankly. And that’s how he plays it, day after day after day, for distraction and for starting different kinds of discussions that he thinks will appeal to his supporters.

HILL: The remarkable part about that, you know, this sort of being the street fighter that the President wants to be, is as John has pointed out multiple times this morning, is he’s picking fights with the late Senator. He’s picking fights with a rerun of SNL. I mean, he’s picking these battles that, you know, to your point, David, there’s…there’s no rhyme or reason, and they clearly don’t make sense. And so I guess it’s sending us in all these directions. The other thing that was remarkable is is hearing from those who speak for him, since we’re only getting the President, really, in tweets. Here is what Mick Mulvaney had to say over the weekend; felt compelled to say. Take a listen.


MICK MULVANEY: You’ve seen the President stand up for religious liberties, individual liberties. The President is not a white supremacist. I’m not sure how many times we have to say that.


HILL: Margaret, do you know, is that a discussion at all in the White House, how many times do they have to say it? And if at some point, if it’s said enough, is there a sense that that’s what they hope the reality will be, that it will change the conversation and the viewpoint?

MARGARET TALEV: Yeah, I do think, Erica, from a messaging perspective, when the Chief of Staff has to go out and do that, that’s not the place where you want to be. But there is a recognition at the staff level that the President’s tweets and messaging are going to drive a certain amount of criticism. And by contrast, we’ll see today former President George W. Bush in Dallas, hosting a naturalization ceremony for, I think, about 51 newly-minted U.S. citizens. He’s going to talk about the importance of immigration in U.S. culture. So for President Trump, he doesn’t…part of this, I think, is also him not, not wanting to be…not thinking that it is his role to be either policeman for the world or spokesman for the world on these kind of unifying messages. I think if this were happening, God forbid, in the United States, that we might see a lot more vocal pushback from Republicans. But I think it’s something that Republicans as well as, as Democrats, are uncomfortable with, which is part of why you see the messaging from the White House trying to say that’s, the criticism’s undue, that’s not what he’s really doing.

JEFFREY TOOBIN: Reading the tweets this weekend, I thought of George W. Bush after 9/11 going to a mosque and saying, “We are not at war with Islam.” Just, you know, reaching out and trying to, you know, define both himself and the United States as a country that welcomes people of all religions. That is completely foreign to, to Donald Trump. I mean, you know, it really is worth reading all of these tweets together. You know, we should give our audience a reading assignment of reading these tweets, just to see the insight into who Donald Trump is. Because these are unmediated, no, you know, staffers involved versions of what Donald Trump is thinking. And it is a remarkable tableau.

BERMAN: You know, it isn’t expressing concern about the rise of white nationalism. It’s personal grievance. I mean, that is what he is fixated on.

TOOBIN: But it’s personal grievance that is precisely consistent with the white nationalist agenda. I mean, it’s not white nationalism, but, you know, everything he says about immigrants, about immigration, about the wall, about, you know, the fact that there is no white nationalist problem is consistent with that view.

BERMAN: And he stuck up for Jeanine Pirro. Jeanine Pirro…

TOOBIN: Jeanine Pirro, right.

BERMAN: Fox News host, suspended. She got suspended from Fox News, which is an achievement, okay? Jeanine Pirro suspended. The President went out of his way to praise her and say we’ve got to fight against political correctness. She got suspended for an anti-Muslim comment.

TOOBIN: Correct. And it’s just…you know, it is not, everything is consistent. Everything that Donald Trump does is consistent with who he is. And I think, you know, you gave your reasons at the beginning of why, you know. I don’t think it’s like a distraction from the Mueller report. This is who Donald Trump is. This is the kind of presidency he’s conducting. And he does it, you know, every day. It’s not like…


TOOBIN: …this was some sort of aberration. I’m sorry, David.

GREGORY: No, that’s and that’s really the point. I mean, I think, you know, John, you said earlier this morning. I mean, this is a President who back in 2016, I remember, said that, you know, Islam is at war with the United States. He at various times talked about banning all Muslims. And then, of course, you know, moved forward with a Muslim ban once he became President. And so this idea, I think Jeffrey’s exactly right, it’s just personal grievance. He doesn’t think big. He doesn’t think big the way President Bush did after the attack of 9/11 and say, “let me go to the Islamic Center of Washington and make clear that this is not a fight with Islam. This is a fight against terrorists.” This is a President who wants to stick up for Jeanine Pirro more than talk about, talk against white nationalism and using the opportunity to say, “Anybody who might take some comfort from what you think I am, do not do so. This is 100 percent wrong.” He doesn’t do that, because he thinks it’s much better to play cute with those people, at the very least, you know, to, to, to play into this idea that liberals are too politically correct, and we shouldn’t over, you know, react to these things. He keeps, he keeps working that angle to keep his supporters on board. And that’s where I say he’s not really interested in, in being President in that sense. He’s interested in, in leading a very narrow band of the country.

TOOBIN: Now…but also the personal grievance nature of it. Why is he still attacking John McCain…


TOOBIN: …who’s been dead for a year? Who, you know, there was no new news that required him to go after John McCain again.


TOOBIN: It’s just, it’s just amazing.

GREGORY: But we all know people like this. Because he’s got such a chip on his shoulder, he’s so insecure, that he cannot elevate to…to the position he has. He cannot do it. All he sees is grievance. All he sees is being slighted, and he won’t let it go.

TALEV: But I do think the McCain question is one of these kind of loyalty flash points for President Trump inside the Republican Party, kind of like “You’re either with McCain or you’re with me.” And a return to that is a way of solidifying your kind of…your base inside the base. And it’s a litmus test for, for lawmakers who might decide on whether they’re going to speak out for or against you.

HILL: And if that is some sort of a test, perhaps Lindsey Graham is passing the loyalty test with President Trump. Of course, Senator McCain’s best friend. This is the tweet, I think we have it; the tweet that he put out in response to the President disparaging once again the late Senator, noting, “As to Senator McCain and the devotion to the country: He stepped forward to risk his life for his country, served honorably under difficult circumstances, and was one of the most consequential senators in the history of the body. Nothing about his service will ever be changed or diminished.” True. But there was no pushing back at all on what the President had to say there. There was really not, David, he wasn’t standing up for his friend.

GREGORY: No. I think…look, I think a lot of people look at Lindsey Graham and say, “What has happened to him?” Why, why, you know, first of all, why isn’t he defending his friend, but why isn’t he taking on President Trump more directly? I think he’s made a calculation that the way to deal with Trump, the way to be relevant, the way to have influence, is not to go after him in response to something like this and tag him on Twitter. It’s to do what he does, you know, on the golf course, in private meetings with him, to try to have the most influence. And think that’s where he’s tried to position himself, whether people like it or not.

BERMAN: The way not to get primaried in your next election in South Carolina, I think, is also to do that.

TALEV: It also… it was announced, it was announced just this morning, the local press in South Carolina reporting that Vice President Pence is going to come down at the end of this month and headline a couple of big events, rolling out Senator Graham’s re-election campaign. But I do think David’s right. I guess, maybe for all of those reasons. It is almost sort of a page out of the Pence playbook, too. Graham’s approach, in terms of embracing his friend, the late Senator McCain, reinforcing the positive qualities, without dealing with the attacks on him or the attacker on him.

BERMAN: It’s his best friend.

HILL: Yeah.

BERMAN: It’s his best friend. All right. David, Margaret, Jeffrey, thank you very much.