Trump disavows ex-KKK head David Duke for 2nd time following refusal


(JTA) — Donald Trump disavowed, then refused to disavow, then disavowed again an endorsement by former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke.

Trump disavowed Duke on Sunday afternoon, for the second time, after refusing to do so that morning in an interview with Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

The front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination posted on Twitter video of his disavowal from two days earlier.

“As I stated at the press conference on Friday regarding David Duke — I disavow,” his tweet said.

On the CNN program, Trump told Tapper: “Just so you understand, I don’t know anything about David Duke, OK?”

Tapper pressed Trump on white supremacists several times.

“I don’t know anything about what you’re even talking about with white supremacy or white supremacists,” he said. “So I don’t know. I don’t know — did he endorse me, or what’s going on? Because I know nothing about David Duke; I know nothing about white supremacists.”

Trump also said: “You wouldn’t want me to condemn a group that I know nothing about. I’d have to look. If you would send me a list of the groups, I will do research on them and certainly I would disavow if I thought there was something wrong. You may have groups in there that are totally fine — it would be very unfair. So give me a list of the groups and I’ll let you know.”

On Friday, he disavowed Duke’s support at a news conference announcing the endorsement of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who had dropped out of the Republican primary race about a week earlier.

“David Duke endorsed me? OK, all right. I disavow, OK?” Trump said.

It’s not the first time Trump has sent mixed messages about Duke. Last August, BuzzFeed news reported on Trump’s refusal at that time to accept Duke’s endorsement, and also claiming ignorance of Duke’s background. Yet it also uncovered a 2000 news release in which Trump distanced itself from the Reform party in part because Duke was a member.

Duke on his radio program Feb. 24 had urged his listeners to vote and volunteer for Trump.

“Voting for these people, voting against Donald Trump at this point is really treason to your heritage,” he said, according to BuzzFeed News, which first reported the comments.

Meanwhile, far-right French leader Jean-Marie Le Pen tweeted his support for Trump on Sunday.

“If I was American I would vote for Donald Trump … may God protect him,” he tweeted.

Le Pen was kicked out of the National Front party he founded, which is now led by his daughter Marine, for his racist and xenophobic comments.

Meanwhile, The New York Times reported Friday that Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has consulted foreign policy expert Lawrence Wilkerson, who was chief of staff to Secretary of State Colin Powell and speculated in 2013 that Israel may have carried out chemical attacks in Syria.

Wilkerson told the Times on Friday that he was not trying to raise the world’s ire by suggesting during an interview with Current TV that Israel was involved in the attacks.

“I was just suggesting all the different people that could have been involved at a time when speculation was rampant,” Wilkerson said.

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