Donald Trump has repudiated the fringe “alt-right” group that celebrated his election win with Nazi salutes.
In a far-ranging interview with the New York Times, the US president-elect was quoted as saying: “I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn.”
He said he did not want to “energise” the group, which includes neo-Nazis, white nationalists and anti-Semites.
Alt-right supporters were filmed on Saturday in Washington DC cheering as a speaker shouted: “Hail Trump.”
In the video, Richard Spencer, a leader of the “alt-right” movement, told a conference of members that America belongs to white people, whom he described as “children of the sun”.
He denounced the movement’s critics as “the most despicable creatures who ever walked the planet”.
“Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!” Spencer shouts at one point as some members of the audience raise their arms in the Nazi salute.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel expressed concern on Tuesday that Mr Trump’s election victory could give succour to white supremacists.
A senior official close to her described the “Hail Trump” video as “repulsive and worrying”.
But Mr Trump stood by his chief strategist Steve Bannon, the former CEO of Breitbart News, and bristled at claims that the ultra conservative site was associated with the white nationalist movement.
“Breitbart is just a publication. They cover stories like you cover stories,” he told the New York Times.
“If I thought he was a racist or alt-right or any of the things, the terms we could use, I wouldn’t even think about hiring him”, he said of Mr Bannon.
In Mr Trump’s interview with the New York Times he addressed a range of topics:
- Son-in-law Jared Kushner – a real estate heir who has no experience of diplomacy – could help forge peace between Israel and Palestinians, he suggested
- The US should not be a “nation-builder” in the world, he argued
- Republican leaders Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell “love” him again, he asserted
- He could run his business and the country both “perfectly” with no conflict of interest
- There is some “connectivity” between human activity and climate change
Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Trump’s spokeswoman said he would not follow up on a campaign pledge to pursue a further inquiry into Hillary Clinton’s emails.
His adviser said the president-elect would not appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the former secretary of state, and dropping the matter would help her “heal”.
Later, Mr Trump was quoted as telling the New York Times: “I don’t want to hurt the Clintons, I really don’t.
“She went through a lot and suffered greatly in many different ways.”