Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists

Ellison: Trump has 'level of sympathy' for neo-Nazis, white supremacists
© Haiyun Jiang

Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) said he believes President TrumpDonald John TrumpWSJ: Trump ignored advice to confront Putin over indictments Trump hotel charging Sean Spicer ,000 as book party venue Bernie Sanders: Trump 'so tough' on child separations but not on Putin MORE has "some level of sympathy" for neo-Nazis and white supremacists after his response to violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.

"I have to come to a conclusion, based on all of the behavior I've seen out of Donald Trump, that the reason he is reluctant to denounce white supremacy and neo-Nazis and Klan members is because he has some level of sympathy for them," Ellison said in an interview published in The Washington Post on Wednesday.

"I can't come to any other conclusion based on the facts that I'm seeing and evaluating, that are in front of me."

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Ellison's comments come after Trump ignited a firestorm Tuesday when he said during a defiant press conference there is "blame on both sides" for the deadly violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Trump faced backlash for his comments from both Democrats and Republicans.

Ellison told the Post that Trump is "quick as a whip to attack anyone he pleases."

He pointed to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellSunk judicial pick spills over into Supreme Court fight Hillicon Valley: Trump's Russia moves demoralize his team | Congress drops effort to block ZTE deal | Rosenstein warns of foreign influence threat | AT&T's latest 5G plans On The Money: Trump 'ready' for tariffs on all 0B in Chinese goods | Trump digs in on Fed criticism | Lawmakers drop plans to challenge Trump ZTE deal MORE (R-Ky.), whom the president targeted after the collapse of the plan to repeal and replace ObamaCare in the Senate.

"But somehow it takes him two and a half days to denounce neo-Nazis, including Ku Klux Klan people," Ellison said.

"You can only come to the conclusion that there's something about them that he tolerates and thinks is acceptable. That's my thought."

Ellison also said he thinks white supremacists are feeling "emboldened."

"They received the signal from the president of the United States that it's all right for them to be active, to be aggressive, to be threatening," he said. "They feel greenlighted."