Trump disavows support from KKK ex-grand wizard David Duke
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Trump disavows support from KKK ex-grand wizard David Duke

Republican front-runner refuses in TV interview to reject white supremacist’s backing, but then tweets that he’s already disavowed him

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Sumter, South Carolina, on February 17, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)
Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaks in Sumter, South Carolina, on February 17, 2016. (Spencer Platt/Getty Images/AFP)

After some confusion, Republican presidential front-runner Donald Trump made clear Sunday he has disavowed support from former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

He tweeted that “as I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke — I disavow.”

The tweet came after Trump had refused earlier Sunday in a CNN interview to reject Duke’s support, saying he was not familiar with the popular white supremacist. “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?” Trump said Sunday morning on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The show’s host, Jake Tapper, pressed Trump on white supremacists several times. “I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” Trump said. “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.”

Trump also said: “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 there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine — it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

On Friday, speaking in Oklahoma, Trump had said, “I didn’t even know he endorsed me. David Duke endorsed me? OK, all right. I disavow, OK?” His Sunday tweet referred to those earlier comments.

In a statement Thursday, the Anti-Defamation League had urged Trump to distance himself from Duke and other white supremacists and “publicly condemn their racism.”

Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to supporters after his release from prison in 2004. (photo credit: Burt Steel/AP)
Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke speaks to supporters after his release from prison in 2004. (AP/Burt Steel)

Duke on Wednesday urged listeners of his radio program to volunteer and vote for Trump, according to audio posted by the website Buzzfeed.

He told them that voting against Trump at this point “is really treason to your heritage.”

Duke said he hadn’t formally endorsed Trump, but supports his candidacy and voting for him as “a strategic action.”

Trump had previously said he wouldn’t want Duke’s endorsement and would repudiate it “if it made you feel better.”

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