Donald Trump Is Afraid to Denounce the Ku Klux Klan

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February 14, 2000: Donald Trump ends his “brief and flamboyant” bid to be the presidential nominee of Ross Perot’s Reform Party:

The new interim head of the Reform Party, Pat Choate, described Mr. Trump as a “hustler” last night, and said he had never believed that Mr. Trump had any interest beyond promoting himself and a new book that happened to be published at exactly the time he started his light schedule of campaign travel.

….Mr. Trump painted a fairly dark picture of the Reform Party in his statement, noting the role of Mr. Buchanan, along with the roles of David Duke, a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan, and Lenora Fulani, the former standard-bearer of the New Alliance Party and an advocate of Marxist-Leninist politics. “The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. Fulani,” he said in his statement. “This is not company I wish to keep.”

February 28, 2016: CNN’s Jake Tapper asks Trump about David Duke’s recent endorsement, one of many from ultra-right and white nationalist leaders:

TAPPER: Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?

DONALD TRUMP: Well just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?….I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists….

TAPPER: Would you just say unequivocally you condemn them and you don’t want their support?

TRUMP: Well I have to look at the group. I don’t know what group you are talking about, you wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about….

TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?….I mean I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here.

TRUMP: I don’t know any — honestly I don’t know David Duke. 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.

This is from the man who bragged a couple of months ago that “I have the world’s greatest memory. It’s one thing everyone agrees on.” Obviously, then, the only conclusion we can draw is that Trump doesn’t want to denounce the KKK. After all, I’m sure he knows perfectly well where his core base of support lies. Why take the chance of pissing off the xenophobe vote?

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THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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