Over the past few days Donald Trump has done a dance around the name “David Duke” that would make Fred Astaire proud. The controversy started when CNN host Jake Tapper asked Trump on Sunday if he would “disavow” the support of Duke, a former Ku Klux Klan leader, and other white supremacists. On that occasion Trump said that he wasn’t familiar with Duke. But at other times Trump has appeared to know very well just who David Duke is, and from the evidence now surfacing, he has known about Duke for years.
The current brouhaha started when Duke told his radio listeners that they should support Trump in the primaries, and if they didn’t it would be “treason to your heritage.” That was followed by a question shouted to Trump from a reporter at his Texas press conference last Friday about Duke’s “endorsement.” Trump replied, “David Duke has endorsed me? I disavow, ok?” The look on his face, the words that he used, everything about his response suggested that he knows full well who David Duke is.
Yet on Sunday, Trump said this about Duke to Tapper:
I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists.
A few hours later, Trump was tweeting the video clip of his “disavowal” on Friday, and wondering how many times he had to disavow a man who a few hours earlier he pretended to know nothing about. And on Monday, Trump blamed the whole thing on a faulty earpiece he was wearing during the interview with Tapper.
On the other side, Duke is trying to distance himself from Trump, perhaps out of fear that he could be toxic to Trump’s campaign. In a video statement that is a textbook example of the term “weasel words,” Duke claims that he never “endorsed” Trump. It is technically true when Duke said he had not officially endorsed The Donald. All he did was tell his radio audience to vote for Trump, and to volunteer to help his campaign. Most people would call that an “endorsement.”
ABC News has produced video that shows that Trump is very familiar with Duke, and has been for many years. The two may have never met, but Trump certainly knows who Duke is, and what he is all about.
The February 29 edition of ABC’s “World News Tonight” ran a story about the tensions that erupted during a Trump campaign rally in Virginia. During the segment they also covered the Trump-Duke controversy, and they played a clip of Trump from 2000, speaking about Duke. In referring to Duke’s joining the Republican party, Trump says,
David Duke just joined, a bigot, a racist, a problem. I mean, this is not exactly the people you want in your party.
From calling Duke a racist in 2000 to claiming he knows nothing about him in 2016, Trump needs to get his story straight. Right now it appears that on one hand he is courting Duke’s followers with a nod and a wink, while at the same time telling everyone else that he doesn’t want the support of a man he says he claims to know nothing about.
Here’s the video, via Media Matters:
Featured image via Wikipedia