White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon has attacked white nationalists as “clowns” as the fallout from violent protests in Charlottesville continues.
Steve Bannon once headed the right-wing Breitbart News, seen as both a major channel for nationalism and key in helping Donald Trump win election.
However, the former film executive told The American Prospect: “Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers.”
Questions surround Steve Bannon’s future, with President Trump refusing to say whether he still had confidence in him.
President Trump has reportedly been urged to fire Steve Bannon, who in his role has enjoyed direct access to the president and whose influence has been seen in decisions like the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.
At a news conference this week, President Trump would only say “we’ll see” when it came to Steve Bannon’s future.
Donald Trump is under fire for his response to August 12 clashes between far-right and counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence.
The rally, attended by neo-Nazis and white supremacists, was in protest at the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, a general who fought for the pro-slavery Confederacy during the US Civil War.
A memorial was held on August 16 for Heather Heyer, a 32-year-old woman killed when a suspected far-right sympathizer drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
Meanwhile Apple CEO Tim Cook has become the latest business leader to criticize President Trump, saying he did not agree there was a “moral equivalence” between white supremacists and “those who oppose them”.
In his interview with The American Prospect, Steve Bannon was asked if there was a connection between the economic nationalism that he supports and the white nationalism seen in Charlottesville.
“Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers,” he said.
“It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.
Steve Bannon has distanced himself from “ethno-nationalism” before, telling the New York Times his interest in nationalism stems from wanting to curb the negative effects of globalization.