In an interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper on Sunday, presidential contender Donald Trump refused to disavow the endorsement he received from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, saying he doesn’t “know anything about” the white supremacist leader.
Duke, who has a devoted following among white nationalists, recently endorsed Trump, saying he is the best candidate to take on “the Jewish owned-and-controlled media.”
Trump was asked three separate times to denounce Duke’s support of his candidacy. Trump had previously denounced Duke during a Q&A at a rally on Friday, and in another interview in August.
But Tapper insisted he do it on national television.
“I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump responded, pleading ignorance. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”
He continued: “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?”
But In February, 2000, Donald Trump revealed that he knew enough about Duke to point out that the Klan member’s entourage is “not company I wish to keep.”
At the time, Trump was considering running for the presidency on the Reform Party ticket. He ultimately refused to go for the nomination, citing the party’s troubling connections.
”So the Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep,” Trump said.
The New York Times reported that Trump “denounced” the factions “that have beset the Reform Party,” which included the white nationalist leaders who affiliated themselves with the political party.
In a separate interview that year with Matt Lauer, Trump said of Duke, “Well, you’ve got David Duke just joined–a bigot, a racist, a problem. I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.”