A brief history of Donald Trump and the white supremacists who love him

“I don’t know what group you’re talking about.”
“I don’t know what group you’re talking about.”
Image: AP Photo/John Bazemore
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

Donald Trump’s outrageous behavior reached a new low this weekend when he declined to repudiate former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who has voiced support for his candidacy, along with other white supremacists.

“Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke,” the Republican presidential frontrunner said in an interview with CNN. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists.”

Trump definitely does know something about David Duke—he denounced him by name in 2000. And his excuse a day later, in which he blamed the incident on a faulty CNN earpiece, doesn’t hold much water either.

When pressed by CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, he said: “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 there was something wrong.”

It’s hardly the first time that Trump’s race-baiting campaign has been associated with white supremacists. So here are a list of groups and some research:

  • David Duke is “the most recognizable figure of the American radical right, a neo-Nazi, longtime Klan leader, and now international spokesman for Holocaust denial,” according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. He is a former Republican Louisiana state representative and two-time primary presidential candidate who believes “salvation lies in a white racial alliance uniting  our people with the common cause of racial idealism.”
  • Trump’s hardline stance on immigration and controversial remarks about Islam and Mexicans have earned him the vocal support of white supremacists. On Feb. 27, he received a Twitter endorsement from Jean-Marie Le Pen, founder of France’s National Front—a far-right, xenophobic, white nationalist party that many believe could be a model for a Trump-dominated Republican Party.
  • In Dec. 2015, Trump supporters taunted and physically threatened a black protester at a rally in Las Vegas. In a video recorded by BuzzFeed’s McCay Coppins, ralliers can be heard yelling “Light the motherfucker on fire!” and “Shoot him!” According to NBC News, one man yelled a German Nazi-era salute, “seig heil,” as the protester was forcibly removed from the event.

And then there’s the question of Trump’s father. Last year, Boing Boing uncovered a 1927 New York Times article that reported the arrest of one Fred C. Trump during a “battle” in which “1,000 Klansmen and 100 policemen staged a free-for-all” in Queens, New York.

The New York Times interviewed Trump about the Boing Boing report:

Q: “Have you seen this story about police arresting a Fred Trump who lived at that Devonshire address in 1927 after a Ku Klux Klan rally turned violent?”

A: “Totally false. We lived on Wareham. The Devonshire — I know there is a road Devonshire but I don’t think my father ever lived on Devonshire.”

Q: “The Census shows that he lived there with your mother there.”

Trump went on to say:

“It never happened. And by the way, I saw that it was one little website that said it. It never happened. And they said there were no charges, no nothing. It’s unfair to mention it, to be honest, because there were no charges. They said there were charges against other people, but there were absolutely no charges, totally false.”

The Anti-Defamation League, which first drew attention to Trump’s base of support among white supremacists, is calling for the campaign to “come clean” on its links with David Duke and his followers.

“The last thing we want is for white supremacists to use this campaign to mainstream their bigotry,” said Jonathan A. Greenblatt, CEO of the League, in a statement. “By not disavowing their racism and hatred, Trump gives them and their views a degree of legitimacy.  Even if it is unintentional on his part, he allows them to feel that they are reaching mainstream America with their message of intolerance.”