Donald Trump, former entertainer and current frontrunner for nomination of president for the Republican party, refused to condemn or even disavow his supporters in the Ku Klux Klan.
During an interview on CNN’s State of the Union Sunday morning, Jake Tapper asked Donald Trump about the open support he has received from the former KKK Grand Dragon David Duke, as well as other white supremacists.
Donald Trump became evasive and coy, refusing to admit that he knew anything about David Duke in particular, or white supremacists in general.
“I don’t know anything about David Duke,” Trump said in response to Tapper’s questioning. “I don’t know anything about what you are even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So, I don’t know. I mean, did he endorse me or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke, I know nothing about white supremacists. And so, you are asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.”
Tapper, however, tried to persist and pin the notoriously slippery GOP frontrunner down, bluntly asking Donald Trump if he would condemn his supporters who are racist.
“But I guess the question from the Anti-Defamation League is, even if you don’t know about their endorsement, there are these groups and individuals endorsing you. Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don’t want their support?” Tapper asked.
Trump, however, could not even bring himself to do as little as that.
“Well, I have to look at the group. I mean, I don’t know what group you’re talking about. You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them, and certainly I would disavow if I thought that there was something wrong. You may have some groups in there that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So, give me a list of groups and I’ll let you know.”
Donald Trump cut him off.
“Honestly, I don’t know David Duke,” said Trump, “I don’t believe I’ve ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him, and I just don’t know anything about him.”
However, despite Donald Trump’s repeated refusal to simply condemn racism, Trump is aware of who David Duke is, and, ironically, gave an interview in 2000 where he actually condemned the Reform Party for its association with David Duke to Matt Lauer.
“Well, you’ve got David Duke just joined — a bigot, a racist, a problem,” Trump told Matt Lauer bluntly, apparently knowing exactly who David Duke was and, at that time, holding firm to the widely held belief that racism is bad.
“I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.”
But that is now exactly who Donald Trump has in his faction of the Republican party — and he no longer sees bigotry or racism as the problem he felt it was back in 2000.
David Duke recently told his followers that voting against Donald Trump would be “treason to your heritage.”
“Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage. I’m not saying I endorse everything about Trump, in fact I haven’t formally endorsed him. But I do support his candidacy, and I support voting for him as a strategic action. I hope he does everything we hope he will do.”
Duke then urged his followers to call Trump’s campaign headquarters and volunteer for his campaign.
“Get off your rear end that’s getting fatter and fatter for many of you everyday on your chairs. When this show’s over, go out, call the Republican Party, but call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer. They’re screaming for volunteers. Go in there, you’re gonna meet people who are going to have the same kind of mindset that you have.”
Adding even more confusion to Trump’s sudden narrative that he is unaware of who David Duke is or what the KKK stands for is the fact that, as recently as Friday, he did initially disavow Duke’s unofficial endorsement, and expressed no uncertainty about Duke’s identity.
In 2000, Trump said that David Duke was not company that he wished to keep, but 2016, it seems, is a completely different story.
[Photo by Tim Boyle/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]