Trump doubles down on ‘nationalist’ label

Trump defends nationalist label, proofless assertions about migrant caravan

WASHINGTON, DC (CNN) - President Donald Trump appears to be embracing his new label of being a “nationalist,” repeating that again at the White House.

It’s a controversial label Trump is wearing proudly - from the White House to his campaign rallies.

The president defended that label earlier Tuesday: "Call me a nationalist if you like, but I don't want companies leaving"

In Houston, he said, "You know what I am? I'm a nationalist, OK? I am a nationalist."

In the Oval Office, he brushed off concerns from critics that he is sending a dog whistle to his base, that what he really means is that he’s a “white nationalist.”

“I love our country, and our country has taken second fiddle,” he said.

When asked if he’s “sending coded language or a dog whistle that you are a white nationalist,” Trump responded, “I've never heard that theory about being a nationalist. We protect and we get killed. We do trading and we get killed. We can't do it. I want other countries to treat us fairly, so in that sense, I am a nationalist."

The president has been dubbing himself a nationalist while he is blasting the thousands of desperate migrants heading for the border, a caravan Trump claims has been infiltrated with what he calls "Middle Easterners," a racially loaded suggestion that there are terrorists among them.

But when asked for proof, the president couldn’t provide any.

“I spoke with Border Patrol people, speak to them all the time,” Trump said. "And you know this more than anybody. They’ve intercepted many people from the Middle East. They’ve intercepted ISIS. Good ones and bad ones. Wonderful from the Middle East. They’ve intercepted wonderful people from South America. But among the people they’ve intercepted very recently are from the Middle East. You can’t be surprised when you hear that.”

Migrant caravan marches on toward US

When pressed, Trump said, “There's no proof of anything."

The president also took questions about his claims that he'll be unveiling a middle tax cut plan in the coming days, even though multiple GOP sources have told CNN that proposal is news to them.

When asked if the plan is an acknowledgment that the original tax cut favored wealthier Americans and corporations too much, Trump responded, “No, it wasn't. The tax plan that we passed ... we are very proud of it because it created jobs.”

Even his own top economic adviser, Larry Kudlow conceded to reporters the plan isn't coming anytime soon.

"We're working through the Ways and Means, as you have to do in these things. It may not surface for a while," he said.

The president also weighed in on the killing of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, with his toughest criticism to date for the kingdom in Riyadh.

"They had the worst coverup ever. Whoever thought of that idea is in big trouble," Trump said.

When the president travels to Paris after the midterms next month, Trump said he may meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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