White nationalist leader Richard Spencer said he was “disappointed” in Donald Trump‘s decision to put some space between his platform and their movement.
During an interview on Tuesday with New York Times reporters and columnists, Trump was asked about Spencer’s conference in Washington D.C., which culminated in white nationalists saying “Hail Trump!” and doing the Nazi salute.
Trump’s campaign has been frequently aligned with the “alt-right,” a moniker Spencer claims to have coined and has said represents a white nationalist ideology. Trump was criticized for embracing the movement when he tapped Steve Bannon, under whose stewardship Breitbart News became the foremost media outlet for the alt-right, to be his White House chief strategist.
Despite that, Trump told the Times, “I don’t want to energize the group. I’m not looking to energize them. I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group.”
(Trump also told the Times that Bannon was not a racist and was not connected to the alt-right; Bannon has said himself the alt-right was his target audience.)
Spencer said that he was “disappointed” by Trump’s disavowal, but remained cautiously optimistic that the president-elect would come around.
Spencer said he understands “where [Trump]’s coming from politically and practically,” adding that he will “wait and see” how the real estate mogul’s administration takes shape.
Spencer is president of the white nationalist think tank National Policy Institute, which advocates for “peaceful ethnic cleansing” and creation of a white ethno-state in America.
He is a supporter of Trump. “Donald Trump came along and I feel like my movement and ideology, we can be a kind of vanguard for a presidential candidate,” Spencer told the BBC in September. “His arrow is pointing in our direction.”
Have a tip we should know? firstname.lastname@example.org