On the Nov. 22 edition of CNN‘s “The Lead with Jake Tapper,” U.S. Rep. Sean Duffy of Wisconsin defended President-elect Donald Trump’s recent but belated disavowal of white nationalists. Trump has been heavily criticized for his lackluster approach to dismissing white nationalists and their rhetoric.
“He did condemn them and that’s a good thing,” Duffy says, adding that it was the “right move” and shows Trump’s leadership skills.
This past Saturday, president of the National Policy Institute Richard B. Spencer gave a rousing speech at the Ronald Reagan Building in Washington, D.C., celebrating Trump’s victory and the white race.
Subsequently, the Trump administration had come under fire for not immediately disavowing Spencer’s neo-Nazi salutes in Trump’s name or his white supremacist rhetoric. In fact, it was days later before the president-elect stated that he does not support the group’s ideals.
A day before the dinner, Vice President-elect Mike Pence was confronted by “Hamilton the Musical” cast members about addressing minorities’ issues in Trump’s new administration.
However, Trump was quick to lambaste actors for criticizing Pence. Actor Brandon Victor Dixon’s message of unity in front of a packed audience quickly drew the ire of the president-elect and sparked a Twitter battle.
Trump condemned the cast for offending Pence, even though the vice president-elect said he on Fox News the following Sunday that he wasn’t offended.
On yesterday’s broadcast of “The Lead,” Duffy stood by Trump while criticizing President Barack Obama for similar responses to the Black Lives Matter movement, a comparison that host Jim Sciutto called unfair.
“My concern is that Barack Obama, when he had a chance, didn’t condemn the riots across America that were in protest of Donald Trump’s victory in the election or didn’t condemn Black Lives Matter,” Duffy says.
Sciutto then points out that bigotry and legal protests are not the same thing.
“You’re equating Americans protesting a politician outright and bigotry from a group that was using the Hitler salute to celebrate Donald Trump’s victory. Are [they] nothing more than white supremacists?” Scuitto asks. “That’s not a fair comparison. You’re putting political protests on a footing with white supremacists?”
Moreover, Duffy tries to explain his comparison, but he manages to dismiss the protesters further.
“Pulling people out of cars and beating them up. Little girls being beaten up in school for supporting Donald Trump. This was violence on American streets,” Duffy says. “So there is different kinds of activity by each group. But both groups needs to be condemned.”