Donald Trump can’t fathom why racist white nationalists in the alt-right support him


President-elect Donald Trump on Tuesday disavowed the so-called "alt-right" movement of white supremacists who have been celebrating his win, but claimed ignorance when asked why he thinks the group supports him.

Trump made the comments during an on-the-record meeting with a number of reporters and columnists at the New York Times' headquarters in New York City.

"It's not a group I want to energize," Trump said of the white supremacists who support him, according to Times reporter Maggie Haberman, who live-tweeted the meeting. "And if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why."

Trump said he didn't think he did anything to energize the alt-right — which believes that white culture is being wrongly overtaken by minorities and religious groups such as Islam and Judaism.

And he added that doesn't want to energize them, and has disavowed their support, according to Times reporter Mike Grynbaum.

Yet throughout the campaign, Trump took positions that would appeal to white supremacists.

He derided Mexican immigrants and Syrian refugees, and he painted African-Americans as a monolithic group of impoverished people living in crime-ridden hellscapes.

Trump also named Steve Bannon as his campaign CEO and later a chief strategist in the White House. 

Bannon is a known agitator of the alt-right, running the website Breitbart, which ran content from top members of the alt-right such as Milo Yiannopoulos.

Democrats have called on Trump to remove Bannon from his role in the White House.

But Trump defended Bannon during his meeting with the New York Times, saying if he were, "racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn't even think about hiring him," Haberman reported.