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 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 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."

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 McConnellSessions: 'We should be like Canada' in how we take in immigrants NSA spying program overcomes key Senate hurdle Overnight Finance: Lawmakers see shutdown odds rising | Trump calls for looser rules for bank loans | Consumer bureau moves to revise payday lending rule | Trump warns China on trade deficit 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."