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Watch: CNN's Don Lemon Defends Antifa, Attempts To Rationalize Group's Violence

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Following an event with evangelical Christian leaders in which President Donald Trump once again took aim at antifa protesters, one CNN anchor used his cable news forum to offer a defense of the anti-fascist movement.

As Trump pointed out in his remarks this week, demonstrators associated with the group have been tied to violent outbursts in the year since a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., ended in the death of one counterprotester.

In the same city one year later, reporters captured footage of some violence and threats by demonstrators.

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In urging the religious leaders to support Republican candidates ahead of the upcoming midterms, the president included antifa among the looming threats he said are tied to the Election Day results.

“It’s not a question of like or dislike, it’s a question that they will overturn everything that we’ve done and they will do it quickly and violently,” Trump said. “And violently. There is violence. When you look at antifa — these are violent people.”

On Tuesday’s installment of “CNN Tonight,” host Don Lemon acknowledged the reported violence associated with the group but went on to make what he described as a pivotal distinction between antifa and those groups against which it protests.

Are antifa protesters justified in using violence?

“It says it right in the name: Antifa,” Lemon said in describing the group’s stated goals at the Charlottesville rally. “Antifascism, which is what they were there fighting.”

He acknowledged that “no organization is perfect” and that there “was some violence” perpetrated by antifa demonstrators.

“No one condones violence, but there were different reasons for antifa and for these neo-Nazis to be there,” Lemon said. “One, racist fascists. The other group, fighting racist fascists. There is a distinction there.”

In a separate discussion on CNN’s “The Situation Room,” CNN chief legal analyst Jeffery Toobin said Trump’s criticism of antifa is racist in its own right.

“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.”

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Trump earned widespread criticism in the wake of last year’s rally for declaring that there was both violence and “very fine people” on both sides of the clash.

He has revisited his condemnation of antifa on multiple occasions in the subsequent year, including his remarks to pastors this week.

“You have tremendous power,” he told his evangelical supporters. “You were saying, in this room, you have people who preach to almost 200 million people, depending on which Sunday we’re talking about.”

During a closed-door portion of the meeting, he told those in attendance to “go out and make sure all of your people vote,” painting a grim picture of an America under a Democratic-controlled U.S. Congress.

“If they don’t vote, we’re gong to have a miserable two years and we’re going to have, frankly, a hard period of time because then it just gets to be one election, you’re one election away from losing everything you’ve got.”

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Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a wide range of newsrooms.
Chris Agee is an American journalist with more than 15 years of experience in a variety of newsroom settings. After covering crime and other beats for newspapers and radio stations across the U.S., he served as managing editor at Western Journalism until 2017. He has also been a regular guest and guest host on several syndicated radio programs. He lives in Phoenix, Arizona, with his wife and son.
Birthplace
Virginia
Nationality
American
Honors/Awards
Texas Press Association, Best News Writing - 2012
Education
Bachelor of Arts, Journalism - Averett University
Professional Memberships
Online News Association
Location
Arizona
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment




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