Donald Trump has grappled with overt support from white supremacist groups during this election cycle. The billionaire candidate flubbed his denunciation of former Grand Wizard with the Ku Klux Klan David Duke. Now, we have Chris Thomas, a black reporter with the Richmond-based NBC12 news station, interviewing the Imperial Wizard of the Rebel Brigade Knights of the Ku Klux Klan, where he says that the Klan is no longer a violent organization—and that Donald Trump is the best man for the presidency. At the time, he also said that if Trump were to drop out, he would back Ohio Gov. John Kasich over Texas Sen. Ted Cruz. The reason: Cruz isn’t an American citizen (via NBC12):
The Imperial Wizard for the Rebel Brigade of the Knights of the Ku Klux Klan is now breaking his silence. He agreed to a no holds barred interview, but it had to be on his turf. My photographer and I followed the Imperial Wizard into Jefferson National Forest. Deputies accompanied us just to make sure things remained peaceful.
When we arrived, we were greeted by men wearing shirts that read "Straight out of Dixie" and "the original boys in the hood."
We shook hands, and the interview was soon underway.
"Does the KKK hate? Is it a hate group?" I asked the Imperial Wizard for the Rebel Brigade Knights of the KKK.
"No, we are not a hate group. We hate no one." replied the Imperial Wizard.
"You don't hate blacks?" I asked.
"No," he replied.
"You don't hate gays?" I asked.
"No. We don't like what they do, but we don't hate them," he replied.
"And what about those infamous burning crosses?" I asked.
"It put fear in people for years," noted the Imperial Wizard. "The lighting of the cross symbolizes that through God's light there is no darkness in this earth. That's the light of God."
"You're paying attention to the presidential elections this time? In your own personal opinion, who is best for the job?” I asked the Imperial Wizard.
“I think Donald Trump would be best for the job,” said the Imperial Wizard. "The reason a lot of Klan members like Donald Trump is because a lot of what he believes in, we believe in. We want our country to be safe."
The Imperial Wizard said he supports Trump’s calls to temporarily ban Muslims from entering the United States.
"If Donald Trump dropped out tomorrow I would support Kasich before I would Ted Cruz because he is not an American citizen,” said the Imperial Wizard. “Even if I agree with some of the things that Ted Cruz says, I would not support him because he was born in Canada. He is not an American citizen."
For starters, it’s long established that Cruz is an American citizen, and was eligible to run for president. Second, no matter what public relations campaign they may think will be successful—the Klan is, and will remain, associated with right-wing hate groups. Anyone with half a brain would denounce any overt endorsement from such groups in a political campaign. Trump said that he had never heard of Duke or his organization, but should have forcefully said that he does not want the support or endorsement from any group that adheres to white supremacy or separatism. Instead, he took a wait and see attitude, which obviously didn’t faze his supporters since he’s now the presumptive nominee. It’s one of the many reasons why a lot of Never Trump folks can’t get on this bandwagon because it has this white nationalist element within the encampment.
Now, not all Trump supporters are Klansmen, but it’s these types of stories that usually get Republicans trapped in the weeds grown by the news media. There is nothing that gets the liberal media salivating than having a news story that involves a Republican and the Klan, or some other hate group. It could devolve into downright lust if the Republican is a presidential candidate. This is drama you don’t need on the trail, and of course you should be highly skeptical of the Imperial Wizard’s comments on pretty much everything he said to Thomas in this interview.
At the same time, Trump was able to deflect this controversy. He’s been able to run circles around the media, and use them as a vessel for $2 billion in free media coverage. He could do so again when the media finds more and more racial hate groups that back Trump. It’s unnecessary drama. And while this particular interview may not need such a response from the Trump campaign—be assured that we shouldn’t be shocked if some outlet finds another group of neo-Nazis, or whomever falls within that mold, and try to peg Trump to them.
These people are a joke and do not need the potential coverage that could come if Trump stumbles again on a statement of denunciation. I hope it doesn’t reach that point. In the meantime, a black reporter interviewing an Imperial Grand Wizard in 2016 is quite surreal.