During President-elect Donald Trump’s on-the-record meeting with the New York Times — which almost didn’t happen — a number of the reporters present live-tweeted the discussion. In those tweets, the reporters say Trump disavowed the alt-right, a controversial group that supported him ardently during the presidential election.
According to the reporters’ tweets, editor Dean Baquet asked Trump if he has energized the alt-right. Trump responded by saying, “I don’t think so, Dean.”
He reportedly elaborated, making the following statements about the alt-right:
- “I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”
- “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”
- “I disavow and condemn them.”
- “I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn.”
The question came up as a result of the circulation of a video of Richard Spencer, a neo-Nazi leader. In it, Spencer opens his speech at a conference this weekend in Washington, greeting the audience with the words, “Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” The remainder of Spencer’s speech is filled with racist remarks. Afterward, the audience cheers and applauds, and some members can be seen giving the Nazi salute.
After disavowing the alt-right, however, Trump defended his selection of Steve Bannon, whom critics accuse of belonging to the alt-right, as his White House chief strategist, saying, “If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him.”