Monday night’s Anderson Cooper 360 panel on CNN discussed a white nationalist conference led by Neo-Nazi Richard Spencer that took place over the weekend in DC.
They also spoke about President-Elect Donald Trump’s role in emboldening and bringing this movement of white supremacists forward.
The annual conference, which took place at the National Policy Institute ended with Spencer calling out “Heil Trump, Heil our people, Heil Victory,” followed by a round of applause and followers saluting him.
New York political anchor Errol Louis suggested that Trump must “own up to the fact that he has encouraged in subtle and not so subtle ways the growth of these people and has refused to make part of his politics pushing them back to the margins.”
Journalist Peter Beinart agreed. “Yes,” he said, “[Trump] should denounce these things. We should also be honest about the fact these things, these people existed before, but they’re enormously emboldened because they feel like they have a friend in the White House and they are not entirely wrong in that feeling.”
Most panelists agreed that Trump should denounce the white nationalist movement, and that in some ways, he did play a role in legitimizing these points of view — both throughout his campaign, and with the people he’s appointed since winning.
Trump surrogate Kayleigh McEnany responded to the conversation by alleging that “President-Elect Trump has repeatedly denounced racists more than any candidate in this race.” She added, “If the alt-right thinks they have a friend in the White House, it’s not because of Donald Trump, who repeatedly denounced racism.”
McEnany instead blamed “liberal commentators who completely take him out of context, and gloss over the fact he called out racism.”
“With all due respect, Kayleigh,” Beinart started, “I really don’t think that’s why they think they have a friend. I did not imagine that Donald Trump spent years claiming that Barack Obama was not born in the United States. I didn’t make that up.”
He continued, “I didn’t make up the fact that Donald Trump responded to the San Bernardino attack by calling for a halt of Muslim immigration.”
Former Bernie Sanders national press secretary, Symone Sanders shut down McEnany’s defenses of Trump. “In 2016, we have put a white nationalist in the White House with Steve Bannon.”
Watch the full clip below.