Two days after disavowing an endorsement from David Duke, Donald Trump suggested Sunday that he doesn’t know anything about the former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard. But that was not his tune back in 2000.
“I disavow it, OK,” he said on Friday when asked about Duke urging white supremacists to support his campaign.
But in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s State of the Union, Trump declined to unequivocally condemn the racism of Duke or disavow the support of white supremacists. Instead, he feigned ignorance.
“Well, just so you understand, I don’t anything about David Duke, OK? I don’t even know anything about what you’re talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists. Did he endorse me, or what’s going on? I know nothing about David Duke. I know nothing about white supremacists,” Trump told Tapper.
Trump does know who David Duke is, however. In 2000, when he said he would not seek the Reform Party nomination, Trump said that the party was too splintered to successfully back a presidential candidate.
“As you know, the Reform Party has got some pretty big problems,” Trump said on World News Now in 2000. “Not the least of which is Pat Buchanan, David Duke, Fulani, and it’s a problem.”
Trump also wrote in the New York Times, “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.”
Tapper rephrased the question and tried again but Trump said he “had to look at the group” and asked for a list of the white supremacist groups. When he asked Trump specifically about the Ku Klux Klan, Trump simply repeated that he had never heard of or met Duke.
Although Duke first supported Trump in August, he asked supporters to volunteer on Wednesday. Duke said, “get off your duff … call Donald Trump’s headquarters, volunteer. They’re screaming for volunteers,” according to the New Orleans Advocate.
Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and Florida Sen. Marco Rubio criticized Trump on Sunday for his response to questions about support from former KKK grand wizard David Duke.
Rubio told reporters, "How are we going to grow our party with a nominee that refuses to condemn the KKK? Don't tell me he doesn't know who the KKK is."
Cruz tweeted in response to the news, "Really sad. @realDonaldTrump you're better than this. We should all agree, racism is wrong, KKK is abhorrent."
Still, Cruz and Rubio both have pledged to support Trump if he became the Republican nominee.
Trump tweeted out a video of his Friday disavowal of Duke on Sunday afternoon, reaffirming his earlier sentiment:
As I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke- I disavow. pic.twitter.com/OIXFKPUlz2— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 28, 2016