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

CNN host Anderson Cooper and Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Health Care: Senate takes up massive HHS spending bill next week | Companies see no sign of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump claims | Manchin hits opponent on ObamaCare lawsuit Elizabeth Warren and the new communism Companies report no signs of drugmakers cutting prices, despite Trump pledge MORE (D-Mass.) clashed Wednesday over whether one of President-elect Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpBrennan fires new shot at Trump: ‘He’s drunk on power’ Trump aides discussed using security clearance revocations to distract from negative stories: report Trump tried to dissuade Melania from 'Be Best' anti-bullying campaign: report 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.