CNN's Cooper clashes with Warren: 'No evidence' Bannon is a white supremacist

CNN host Anderson Cooper and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenWarren: Trump is a 'racist bully' Poll: Oprah would outperform Warren, Harris against Trump in California Democrats continue to dismiss positive impacts of tax reform MORE (D-Mass.) clashed Wednesday over whether one of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpDems flip Wisconsin state Senate seat Sessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants GOP rep: 'Sheet metal and garbage' everywhere in Haiti MORE’s key appointments is a white supremacist.

Warren ignited the encounter by accusing Stephen Bannon, Trump’s incoming chief strategist and senior counselor, of practicing the racist ideology.

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“[Trump’s] got as his strategic adviser someone who’s a white supremacist,” she said of Bannon, the former chairman of Breitbart News, on CNN’s “Anderson Cooper 360.”

“Wait a minute, there’s no evidence he’s a white supremacist,” Cooper said, interrupting Warren. "Obviously, there are people who are white supremacists who support Donald Trump and support Breitbart or Steve Bannon.”

Warren audibly exhaled at Cooper’s remarks before defending her criticism of Bannon, who was also Trump’s presidential campaign CEO.

“Steve Bannon has certainly associated himself with white supremacists,” said Warren. "Will you go that far?”

“I don’t know that you can say, though, that he’s a white supremacist,” Cooper retorted.

“This is a guy whose appointment is applauded by the [Ku Klux Klan],” Warren added of Bannon. "He’s associated himself with white supremacists, is that close enough?

“What Donald Trump is doing, so far, is that he’s said he’s going to go forward on bigotry and he’s going to go forward on Wall Street insiders. I think this is a real problem for the American people.”

Trump announced Bannon’s future role earlier this month, sparking outcry from critics who object to his links to Breitbart.

Bannon has described the news website as a platform for the “alt-right,” a far-right group that often overlaps with racism, white nationalism and populism.

Trump defended Bannon last week, vowing he “wouldn’t even think” about hiring someone who is bigoted.