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Obama called Trump a 'fascist' during phone call, Sen. Kaine says in new Clinton film

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President Barack Obama talks with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval
President Barack Obama talks with President-elect Donald Trump in the Oval Office on Nov. 10, 2016.   -  
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Jabin Botsford The Washington Post via Getty Images file
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President Barack Obama called Donald Trump a "fascist" in a phone conversation with Sen. Tim Kaine during the 2016 presidential election, the Virginia lawmaker says in a video clip featured in an upcoming documentary about Hillary Clinton.

Kaine, Clinton's vice presidential running mate on the Democratic ticket, recounts the call during an exchange with Clinton that was caught on camera in 2016. Kaine's wife, Anne Holton, was also present.

"President Obama called me last night and said, 'Tim, remember, this is no time to be a purist. You've got to keep a fascist out of the White House,'" Kaine says before adding with a laugh that Obama "knows me and he knows that I could tend to err," although the meaning of that reference isn't clear.

"I echo that sentiment," Clinton replies to Kaine, nodding her head. She then puts her hands to her chest and says: "But that's really — the weight of our responsibility is so huge."

The clip appears in an episode of "Hillary," a four-part documentary series that will be available on Hulu on March 6. The docuseries, which premieres at the Sundance Film Festival on Saturday evening at a screening attended by the former first lady, chronicles her early life, rise to national prominence and political career.

NBC News was given access to the series earlier this week. Nanette Burstein, an Oscar-nominated filmmaker who directed "Hillary," confirmed in an email that the clip of Kaine was recorded by a camera team hired by the Clinton campaign.

The exact date and location of the conversation are not clear.

Obama's description of Trump as a fascist — as recalled by Kaine — amounts to a far sharper attack on his successor than he has offered in public settings.

In a speech at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, Obama said "homegrown demagogues" were among the political forces that threaten American values — a comment some interpreted as a veiled swipe at the Republican presidential nominee.

Hillary Clinton and 2016 Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine attend together a campaign rally in Miami on July 23, 2016.
Hillary Clinton and 2016 Democratic vice presidential candidate Tim Kaine attend together a campaign rally in Miami on July 23, 2016.Alexander Tamargo

Obama's communications director declined to comment when contacted by NBC News on Friday. Kaine's office and Clinton's spokesman did not respond to requests for comment.

The former president has rarely directly attacked Trump since leaving office. He has criticized some of Trump's policy decisions, such as the move to pull out of the Paris climate accords, and implicitly jabbed at the president's habits, such as when Obama said leaders should avoid social media.

"Hillary" made headlines earlier this week after The Hollywood Reporter said the series featured clips of Clinton bashing Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., her opponent in the bitter Democratic primary battle of 2016.

"Nobody likes him. Nobody wants to work with him. He got nothing done. He was a career politician," Clinton says as part of a wide-ranging new interview recorded for the series. "It was all just baloney and I feel so bad that people got sucked into it."

The series features other notable comments from Clinton, 72, who speaks candidly about Trump, as well as her tenure as first lady in the 1990s, President Bill Clinton's affair with Monica Lewinsky, and the various challenges of her years in the national spotlight.

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