Donald Trump downplays endorsement from David Duke, retweets Mussolini
Mussolini retweet was part of a long running prank by Gawker
Donald Trump over the weekend appeared to flip-flop on the endorsement of David Duke, the former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan.
Duke endorsed the U.S. Republican presidential contender on Thursday saying that "voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage," reported the Guardian.
In an interview with CNN on Sunday, Trump at first didn't disavow the endorsement, appearing as though he didn't know who Duke was.
"Just so you understand, I don't know anything about David Duke, OK?" Trump said on CNN's State of the Union. "Certainly I would disavow it if I thought there was something wrong."
The reporter posed the question on whether Trump would disavow the Klansman three times with little success in getting Trump to clarify his opinion.
"I don't know anything about what you're even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists," he said.
Not long after the interview, Trump's Twitter account tweeted that he already disavowed Duke at a rally on Friday. He did not, however, disavow all support by the KKK, which had been one of the focal points of the CNN interview.
As I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke- I disavow. <a href="https://t.co/OIXFKPUlz2">pic.twitter.com/OIXFKPUlz2</a>—@realDonaldTrump
He's since attributed his responses to a faulty ear piece, saying that he had heard "various groups, " and didn't properly hear the question.
Trump's previous run-ins with David Duke included when he ran for the Reform Party presidential nomination in 2000. When Trump ended his campaign, he pointed to Duke as one of his key reasons for deciding to leave the race.
Donald Trump knew David Duke was a klansman in 2000, yet denies knowledge of him now. <a href="https://t.co/P3eMUj3lWP">https://t.co/P3eMUj3lWP</a> <a href="https://t.co/kJQUKqMxim">pic.twitter.com/kJQUKqMxim</a>—@JGreenDC
"The Reform Party now includes a Klansman, Mr. Duke, a neo-Nazi, Mr. [Patrick] Buchanan, and a communist, Ms. [Lenora] Fulani. This is not company I wish to keep," he wrote in a statement to the New York Times.
But that's not where Trump's being linked to the Klan ends.
In 1927, supporters of Benito Mussolini's fascist movement and the Ku Klux Klan rioted in New York's Jamaica district, according to the Washington Post. Seven men were arrested for the resulting fight, including Fred Trump, Donald Trump's father.
A New York Times reporter posed the question to Trump regarding his father's supposed involvement in the riot.
The celebrity businessman initially confirmed that his father did live on a street near where the riots happened, but when the topic of the arrest came up Trump immediately denied any connection.
"My father was not involved, was never charged and I never even heard this before," said Trump to Times reporter, Jason Horowitz.
Coincidentally, the younger Trump was involved with a mishap based around Mussolini.
He unknowingly retweeted one of Mussolini's famous quotes Sunday morning.
"<a href="https://twitter.com/ilduce2016">@ilduce2016</a>: “It is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep.” – <a href="https://twitter.com/realDonaldTrump">@realDonaldTrump</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/MakeAmericaGreatAgain?src=hash">#MakeAmericaGreatAgain</a>"—@realDonaldTrump
The retweet turned out the have been a long running game by the news site Gawker. According to a post on their website, two Gawker staff members created a Mussolini bot by the name "ilduce2016" which would tweet Mussolini quotes, but attribute them to Trump.
"Gawker Media Executive Editor John Cook expressed some concern that the joke behind the account was far too obvious, and wouldn't trick anyone but a complete idiot," Alex Pareene wrote on Gawker, revealing that they had been behind the stunt.
On NBC's Meet the Press, host Chuck Todd posed to Trump that "it is better to live one day as a lion than 100 years as a sheep," was from the fascist dictator.
When Trump waffled in response, Todd asked if Trump minded that he associating himself with Mussolini.
"No, I want to be associated with interesting quotes," he replied, and said that his Twitter followers like to see that he posts interesting things.
Trump has received endorsements from New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and from Maine Governor Paul LePage.
As of Saturday, he also had the support of Jean-Marie Le Pen, the previous leader of Front National, the far-right French political party known for its anti-immigration policies, reported the Guardian.
Si j’étais américain, je voterais Donald TRUMP… Mais que Dieu le protège !—@lepenjm
"If I was American, I would vote for Donald Trump," Le Pen tweeted in French.