On Sunday, Donald Trump dodged repeated questions about the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke, who endorsed him last week. Today, Trump’s blaming an earpiece and insisting he still doesn’t know much about the country’s most infamous white supremacist.
Amid a presidential bid marked by the candidate’s racially charged statements about blacks and Latinos – not to mention Trump’s promise to ban Muslims from entering the country – his refusal to condemn Duke has sparked outrage and condemnation. And despite Trump’s assertion that he doesn’t know anything about white supremacists and Duke, he’s been asked again and again about Duke and other white supremacists for months. Further, he’s been talking about Duke for years.
Here’s a look at everything he’s said about the Klan, David Duke and those who find inspiration in messages of white supremacy.
February 29, 2016, interview with TODAY’s Savannah Guthrie and Matt Lauer: I had a ‘lousy earpiece’
TRUMP: First of all, he talked about David Duke and other groups, he talked about other groups…
GUTHRIE: But you said three times ‘I don’t know who David Duke is’
TRUMP: No, no, well, I know who he is, but I never met David Duke, so when you talk about it, I’ve never met David Duke.
GUTHRIE: But in 2000 you refused to run on the Reform Party platform because David Duke was a member of it.
TRUMP: I disavowed him a day before in a major press conference, and I’m saying to myself, how many times do I have to continue to disavow people, and the question was asked about David Duke and various groups, and I don’t know who the groups are … he was unable to tell me that.
GUTHRIE: He said he was just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, and you said, ‘Honestly, I don’t know David Duke.’
TRUMP: Well, let me tell you, I’m sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece they gave me, and well, what I heard was various groups. And I don’t mind disavowing anybody, and I disavowed David Duke, and I disavowed him the day before at a major news conference … now I go and I sit down again, and I have a lousy earpiece that is provided by them, and frankly, he talked about groups, and I have no problem disavowing groups, but I have to know who they are. It would be very unfair to disavow a group if the group shouldn’t be disavowed. But I disavowed David Duke … I disavowed David Duke all weekend long, on Facebook and Twitter, and it’s not enough.
February 28, 2016, Twitter: ‘I disavow’
February 27, 2016, interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper: ‘I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?’
TAPPER: I want to ask you about the Anti-Defamation League, which this week called on you to publicly condemn unequivocally the racism of former KKK grand wizard David Duke, who recently said that voting against you at this point would be treason to your heritage. Will you unequivocally condemn David Duke and say that you don’t want his vote or that of other white supremacists in this election?
TRUMP: Well, just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke. OK? I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. So I don’t know. I don’t know, did he endorse me or what’s going on, because, you know, I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists. And so you’re asking me a question that I’m supposed to be talking about people that I know nothing about.
TAPPER: Would you say unequivocally that you condemn them and you don’t want their support?
TRUMP: 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 would 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.
TAPPER: The Ku Klux Klan?
TRUMP: But you may have groups in there that are totally fine, and it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups, and I will let you know.
TAPPER: OK. I mean, I’m just talking about David Duke and the Ku Klux Klan here, but…
TRUMP: I don’t know any – honestly, I don’t know David Duke. I don’t believe I have ever met him. I’m pretty sure I didn’t meet him. And I just don’t know anything about him.
February 26, 2016, press conference: ‘I disavow’
TRUMP: I didn’t know he endorsed me, I disavow.
February 25, 2016, interview with NBC News in spin room after Republican debate: ‘I disavow’
TRUMP: I disavow it, but I didn’t know that.
January 2016, Twitter: Retweets galore
Trump routinely retweets Twitter users with ties to white supremacists, most memorably tweeting a photoshopped mockery of former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush posted by a user with the name “WhiteGenocideTM.”
A social media analytics firm surveyed 21 recent users who’d received Trump retweets in January and found that nearly a third were well-known white supremacist Twitter accounts, while nearly two-thirds were users following at least three accounts who used a well-known white supremacist hashtag.
December 29, 2015, press gaggle in Iowa: Duke is ‘wrong’
REPORTER: David Duke says you’re more extreme than him in many ways.
TRUMP: Well, I’ll tell you what, I’m somebody that’s extremely inclusive. I want people to get along. We have a president that’s dividing our country, terribly dividing our country, and I’m going to bring people together, and you’re going to see some wonderful things happening with our country.
REPORTER: So is David Duke wrong?
TRUMP: David Duke certainly would be wrong.
September 22, 2015, interview with the New York Times: His father’s alleged arrest at a KKK rally in Queens, New York
NYT: 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?
TRUMP: 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.
NYT: The Census shows that he lived there with your mother there. But regardless, you never heard about that story?
TRUMP: 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. Somebody showed me that website — it was a little website, and somebody did that. By the way, did you notice that there were no charges? Well, if there are no charges, that means it shouldn’t be mentioned.
Because my father, there were no charges against him, I don’t know about the other people involved. But there were zero charges against him. So assuming it was him — I don’t even think it was him, I never even heard about it. So it’s really not fair to mention. It never happened.
August 20, 2015, after a Latino man was beaten: Trump says supporters are ‘passionate’
Trump said the beating “would be a shame,” before adding, “I will say that people who are following me are very passionate. They love this country, and they want this country to be great again. They are passionate.”
February 19, 2000, op-ed for The New York Times: ‘Not company I wish to keep.’
TRUMP: Although I am totally comfortable with the people in the New York Independence Party, I leave the Reform Party to David Duke, Pat Buchanan and Lenora Fulani. That is not company I wish to keep.
February 14, 2000, interview with NBC on a rumored presidential run with the Reform Party: ‘A bigot, a racist, a problem’
TRUMP: 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. Buchanan’s a disaster, as we’ve, you know, covered. Jesse’s a terrific guy who just left the party. And he, you know, it’s unfortunate, but he just left the party. He’s going to be doing his Independence Party from Minnesota. And he’s a terrific guy and a terrific governor, and he’s got a great future. And I’ve always said, Matt, that I would run if I thought I could win, and in order to win…
LAUER: Not only the nomination, but the presidency.
TRUMP: … the whole thing. I don’t want to get 20 percent of the vote, I think I could, and I know I could get the nomination. New York wants me. Texas wants me. Many of the states want me. And they’re, you know, they’re rather devastated because they don’t like the alternatives. I always said, and I said to you if you can win the whole thing, you can only win the whole thing with a totally unified party.