Trump campaign selects, dumps white nationalist as California delegate

Donald Trump’s presidential campaign put William Johnson of the American Freedom Party on a list of its approved delegates in California, Josh Harkinson reported yesterday for Mother Jones.

Earlier this year, Johnson bankrolled the American National Super-PAC, which placed robocalls in Iowa and other states making the case for Trump in explicit white nationalist terms. Click through to read the transcript of the call placed to hundreds of thousands of Iowa households.

Johnson spent about $5,000 on the Iowa calls in January, ending the campaign once his efforts started to generate bad publicity. He later paid for pro-Trump robocalls in other states, including New Hampshire, Minnesota, and Vermont.

Harkinson reported,

“I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” Johnson tells Mother Jones. “I can be a white nationalist and be a strong supporter of Donald Trump and be a good example to everybody.”

Johnson says that in his application to be a delegate for Trump he disclosed multiple details about his background and activism, though he did not specifically use the term “white nationalist.”

A few hours after Mother Jones published that piece, “the Trump campaign blamed Johnson’s selection on a ‘database error,’ and Johnson told Mother Jones he would resign.” A follow-up post by Harkinson included e-mail correspondence between Trump’s California delegate coordinator Katie Lagomarsino and Johnson on May 10.

An official statement from the campaign said “A database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that [sic] had been rejected and removed from the campaign’s list in February 2016.” Candace Smith of ABC News posted a statement from the California Secretary of State’s office, saying it was too late to remove Johnson’s name from the Trump list.

Since last summer, Trump’s candidacy has attracted broad support within white nationalist and neo-Nazi circles. Journalists perceived as too critical of Trump have occasionally been subjected to online harassment or threats from people in that subculture. Menacing phone calls and e-mails prompted freelance writer Julia Ioffe, author of this GQ feature on Melania Trump, to file a police report recently.

Although Trump has occasionally repudiated support from racists, he has also re-tweeted some supportive messages from white nationalists or neo-Nazis. More important, his widely publicized comments about Mexicans and other groups have emboldened many people who share his views. Harkinson’s original post had the best kicker I’ve read in a while:

“For many, many years, when I would say these things, other white people would call me names: ‘Oh, you’re a hatemonger, you’re a Nazi, you’re like Hitler,'” [Johnson] confessed. “Now they come in and say, ‘Oh, you’re like Donald Trump.'”

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