David Duke—former KKK top dawg, ex-Republican legislator, and poster boy for the modern American white power movement—told Fusion in an interview yesterday that sure, he knows the now-embattled GOP House whip, and hey, he rubs elbows with lots of pols, left and right, and he'll name names.
Duke's comments came as the GOP's No. 3 man in Congress, Majority Whip Steve Scalise, admitted he'd spoken at a 2002 white supremacist conference organized by Duke, a fellow Louisianan and founder of the pro-white "European-American Unity and Rights Organization" (EURO).
Through a spokeswoman yesterday, Scalise acknowledged he'd spoken at the EURO rally about the scourge of government programs that benefit primarily minorities, but he swore he knew nothing of the conference's racial politics or its connection to Duke.
But Duke told cable news network Fusion that "he has met with Scalise several times, along with other members of Louisiana's congressional delegation," according to the network's account, and Duke added that he believed two of his aides had invited Scalise to the 2002 conference. Duke then proceeded to blame "zionists" and "tribalists" in the media for this tempest:
Duke said he wasn't "disappointed" by the quick work Scalise did to distance himself from Duke and the group, EURO. He said he was only disappointed in some of the positions Scalise has taken with respect to his support for Israel and foreign policy in general.
But what he described as political sanctimony stirring against him was "all bullshit." He rejected claims that he was a "racist" or "white supremacist," saying he wouldn't have won election in a Louisiana district that was 80 percent Catholic. Duke served in the Louisiana House of Representatives from 1989-92.
"I've grown up. And I understand who the real racists are," Duke said in a phone interview on Monday, saying a "zionist" and "tribalist" mentality throughout the press and media was mostly to blame for the negative portrayal of him.
To drive home the point that he thought Scalise was being unfairly singled out for consorting with Duke's pro-white groups, the former Klan grand dragon "delivered a warning to both Republicans and Democrats":
Treat Scalise fairly, and don't try to make political hay out of the situation. Or he said he would be inclined to release a list of names of all the politicians — both Republicans and Democrats — with whom he has ties.
"If Scalise is going to be crucified — if Republicans want to throw Steve Scalise to the woods, then a lot of them better be looking over their shoulders," Duke said.
[Photo credit: AP Images]