GOP's Tommy Tuberville refuses to answer as he gets grilled over his defense of white nationalists
Senator Tommy Tuberville speaks on the 1st day of CPAC Washington, DC conference at Gaylord National Harbor Resort Convention on March 2, 2023. (

WASHINGTON — Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) has found himself caught in the middle of a scandal of his own making after he told a reporter that white nationalists serving in the military were nothing more than Americans.

Speaking to Raw Story on Tuesday, Tuberville said that he wasn't sure about an increase in terrorism from white supremacists.

"We got a lot of Americans. I try to be an American," said Tuberville.

Raw Story quoted the statistics to him with the most recent numbers the FBI revealed about the increase in hate crimes, and the one-year anniversary of the attack on the Tops supermarket in Buffalo.

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"I'm not gettin' into that argument," said Tuberville. "I don't know. I don't know. All I know is we need more Americans in the country that believe in the country."

Raw Story cited the incidents in Charlottesville in which a crowd of people sporting tiki torches chanted, "Jews will not replace us."

"We've got a mental health problem in this country," Tuberville said. "It's one of our biggest problems."

It wasn't clear if he was suggesting the neo-Nazis and white supremacists at Charlottesville were suffering from a mental health problem.

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When asked if there was a white supremacist problem, Tuberville dodged again, saying, "I'm not gettin' into that argument."

Tuberville serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and three subcommittees, one for strategic forces, one for emerging threats and another on personnel.

Over the past several years, there has been a concern about emerging threats from extremists and militia members connected to military branches, either discharged or on active duty. The attack on the U.S. Capitol Jan. 6, 2021, revealed some of those who attempted to overthrow the Capitol and the 2020 election were current personnel or former personnel in the military. There were three active duty Marines, one Navy member, and nine other active, reserve, and National Guard who have been arrested in connection with Jan. 6.

The George Washington University's Project on Extremism reported that out of the 968 defendants charged with Jan. 6 crimes; 131 have a military background. It makes up 13 percent, the site said.

Tuberville's other appointment is to the Senate Veteran's Affairs Committee.

The extremism has been a point of concern with the Pentagon, which issued new rules in 2021 trying to stem any further growth.

Senior defense officials told the Associated Press, "Fewer than 100 military members are known to have been involved in substantiated cases of extremist activity in the past year, but they warn that the number may grow given recent spikes in domestic violent extremism, particularly among veterans."

Many militia groups and right-wing extremists are looking for ways to start the second civil war, one Washington Post report explained in an interview with a civil war expert.

It's why there has been a conversation among Homeland Security officials and the military about radical right domestic terrorism.

But when asked about it, Tuberville rushed to defend extremists as patriotic Americans. When he attempted to clean it up with another statement, it got even worse, and he asked how a "white nationalist" is defined. The NBC reporter that spoke to him explained neo-Nazis are one group, a fact he seemed confused by.

“You think a white nationalist is a Nazi? I don’t look at it like that. I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican,” Tuberville said, identifying himself in their camp. “That’s what we’re called all the time, a MAGA person."

"We are losing in the military so fast our readiness in terms of recruitment. And why? I’ll tell you why: because the Democrats are attacking our military," Tuberville said. He went on to say that the "Joe Biden agenda" is to "get out the white extremists, the white nationalists, people that don’t — don’t believe in our agenda." He explained that this is destroying the military.

At the same time, Tuberville is holding up the promotions of 200 service members because he's mad about abortion. President Biden halted a move of the Space Command to Alabama after the state banned nearly all abortions in the state.

With additional reporting by Matt Laslo