Donald Trump repeats odd nickname for Letitia James at North Carolina rally

Donald Trump repeated his unexplained – and potentially racist – nickname for New York attorney general Letitia James, who hit him and the Trump Organization with a $250m fraud lawsuit earlier this week.

“There’s no better example of the left’s chilling obsession with targeting political opponents than the baseless, abusive and depraved lawsuit against me, my family, my company, by the racist Attorney General of New York State. Leticia ‘Peekaboo’ James,” Mr Trump told the crowd in Wilmington.

The speech featured a number of vicious insults against Ms James, including calling her a “raging maniac” and “leftist nutjob,” but he returned again and again to the “Peekaboo” nickname.

It’s not the first time the former president has used the moniker for the attorney general.

Earlier this week, in reaction to the New York lawsuit, Mr Trump trotted out the insult.

“Racist A.G. Letitia ‘Peekaboo’ James, the failed Gubernatorial candidate, is now running second to strong crime fighter MICHAEL HENRY,” he wrote on social media. “This could be a big upset because she has been a terrible A.G. when it comes to protecting the people of New York State. Murder, Rape, and Drugs are totally out of control.”

Critics argue that Mr Trump in fact is the one being racist against Ms James, who is Black.

They point out how “Peekaboo” rhymes with the “j-word,” a slur for African-Americans.

“Anyone else getting a super racist vibe from Trump nicknaming Letitia James ‘Peekaboo’? Good lord,” USA Today columnist Rex Huppke wrote on Twitter on Wednesday.

Michael Cohen, Mr Trump’s former fixer and attorney, meanwhile, has argued the nickname itself is meaningless, and show’s the former president as both immature and experiencing cognitive decline.

"My opinion? He has dementia," Mr Cohen told Insider on Thursday, adding that he doubts the nickname is meant as a racist dog-whistle. "Especially with the additional stress that is now on top of him."

"Let me put it to you this way," Mr Cohen continued. "As you sit and listen to Trump speak, you realize that he has at best a 10-year-old’s vocabulary. He’s using peekaboo as a hide and seek term."

The Independent has reached out to Ms James and Mr Trump for comment.