For the second time this year, Donald Trump has retweeted a message from an apparent neo-Nazi, raising troubling questions about his judgment and the ideology of some of his supporters.
On Wednesday, Trump retweeted and then deleted a message from the dubiously named user WhiteGenocideTM. The message was innocuous enough —the user was complimenting the crowds the GOP front-runner routinely receives on the stump — but the messenger is hard to ignore.
WhiteGenocideTM's account features the image of George Lincoln Rockwell, the founder of the American Nazi Party, along with the phrase "the man who would be Hitler." It also lists the user's location as "Jewmerica," and includes links to other hateful, anti-Semitic and racist content, including insulting tweets about Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and a link to a documentary questioning the validity of the Holocaust.
And this is not the first time Trump has retweeted a message from WhiteGenocideTM. In late January, he shared an image the user posted of Jeb Bush superimposed on the body of what appears to be a panhandler, holding a sign that reads: "Vote Trump." That tweet had not been removed from Trump's account as of Thursday. MSNBC reached out to the Trump campaign for comment on the WhiteGenocideTM retweets but has not heard back at this time.
In the past, Trump has been criticized for sharing racially insensitive messages and sentiments on social media. Last October, he tweeted his thanks to a Dutch white supremacist who sang his praises. (That profile asks: "Race war, when?") Then in November, he retweeted debunked crime statistics that incorrectly claimed black Americans committed 81 percent of murders against white victims in 2014. FBI statistics show that in actuality 82 percent of white murder victims were killed by white assailants. “I retweeted somebody that was supposedly an expert,” Trump told Fox News host Bill O'Reilly afterwards. “Bill, am I gonna check every statistic?”
“All it was is a retweet,” Trump added. “It wasn’t from me.”
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The next month, when British citizens proposed he be banned from their country via a petition, Trump encouraged his supporters to read the writings of U.K. conservative and former “Apprentice” cast-member Katie Hopkins. Hopkins has compared migrants to ”cockroaches” and “feral humans” and was reportedly investigated for “inciting racial hatred” in early 2015.
Last year, when two of his supporters attacked a homeless man and reportedly said, "Donald Trump was right, all these illegals need to be deported" while they were doing it, the real estate mogul simply said that his backers are "very passionate." And in November of last year, when he was asked if his call for a database where all Muslim Americans would need to be registered was reminiscent of Nazi policies, Trump responded: "You tell me."
In the past, Trump has professed to have enjoyed a great relationship with "the blacks," and he has spoken (albeit with the requisite degree of controversy) to Jewish groups. Still, that hasn't stopped some white supremacists from enthusiastically embracing his campaign. The American National Super PAC, a white nationalist organization founded by American Freedom Party chairman William Daniel Johnson, conducted pro-Trump robocalls during the run-up to the Iowa caucus and New Hampshire primary.
“We don’t need Muslims. We need smart, well-educated white people,” a voice said in one New Hampshire robocall. “I am a farmer and a white nationalist. Support Donald Trump,” another said. The Trump campaign has yet to disavow or comment publicly on these robocalls, although the candidate himself has repeatedly lamented the fact that there is "too much" political correctness in the U.S.
“Most white people would prefer to live in majority white neighborhoods and send their children to majority white schools. And deep in their bones, they are deeply disturbed by an immigration policy that is making the United States majority non-white,” Jared Taylor, an editor at the white nationalist media outlet American Renaissance and one of the voices on the robocalls, recently told CNN. “So when Donald Trump talks about sending out all the illegals, building a wall and a moratorium on Islamic immigration, that’s very appealing to a lot of ordinary white people.”
And Trump is not the only 2016 Republican getting support from uncomfortable corners of the electorate. Earlier in this campaign cycle, Trump's rivals Sens. Ted Cruz and Rand Paul rejected thousands of dollars in contributions from Earl Holt III, the president of Council of Conservative Citizens, a white supremacist group that was name-checked in the manifesto written by South Carolina church massacre suspect Dylann Storm Roof.
Additional reporting by Benjy Sarlin and Khorri Atkinson.