Even as Donald Trump seeks to tack to the center, and leave behind his earlier, wildly controversial statements on Hispanics and Muslims, mounting evidence concerning the Trump campaign's ties to racist white nationalists -- including two of the six directors of the American Freedom Party -- threatens to undermine Trump's re-branding effort.
The American Freedom Party promotes Holocaust denial, claims that "diversity equals white genocide", and calls Trump "the great white hope". AFP also denies being a white supremacist organization, billing itself as merely "white nationalist" -- a rebranding tactic that belies AFP support for claims of alleged white genetic superiority.
On May 10, 2016, Mother Jones magazine reported that Donald Trump's presidential campaign had selected William D. Johnson, head of the American Freedom Party (AFP), as a delegate in California.
But Trump's namesake, Donald Trump, Jr., has earlier this year been in direct contact with another American Freedom Party leader -- James Edwards, one of 6 co-directors of the AFP along with William D. Johnson, and host of the Political Cesspool radio show. A Southern Poverty Law Center profile on James Edwards states that his radio show,
"has featured a wide roster of white supremacists, anti-Semites and other extremists, such as the longtime Klan leader David Duke and Holocaust denier Willis Carto. Its mission statement says it 'stands for the Dispossessed Majority' and is 'pro-white.' "
"Diversity equals white genocide"
Since 2015, the American Freedom Party has been sponsoring racist robocalls, in various U.S. states, that warn citizens of a plot to carry out a genocide against white Americans by flooding the U.S. with non-white immigrants.
Through its super-PAC, AFP has also run pro-Trump robocalls, in a number of states, in support of Trump's candidacy. In a press release announcing the robocall campaign, the AFP identified Donald Trump as "the great white hope".
AFP has deployed its racist pro-Trump robocall messages in Iowa, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Minnesota -- where the taped AFP phone message warned that "The white race is dying out in America and Europe because we are afraid to be called 'racist' " and urged citizens, "Don't vote for a Cuban. Vote for Donald Trump."
As mainstream media notice of the AFP's racist robocall campaign mounted, in a January 13, 2016 interview on CNN Donald Trump disavowed the robocall support his campaign was getting from the American Freedom Party super-PAC.
But Trump followed his tepid, pro-forma disavowal by citing a roster of Americans Trump said had been shot, "raped, sodomized, and killed" by illegal immigrants.
Trump's approach was thrilling to American Freedom Party leaders.
On a January 16, 2016 segment of James Edwards' Political Cesspool radio show, AFP Co-director Edwards called Trump's response "wonderful" and "quite good", and AFP Chairman William Johnson said he "couldn't have asked for a better approach" from Trump.
Past positions of AFP chairman William Daniel Johnson include a proposal that U.S. citizenship be restricted to Americans of white European ethnic stock. Beyond deporting non-white immigrants, Johnson has also argued for the deportation of all U.S. citizens with any "ascertainable trace of Negro blood".
The American Freedom Party claims that "diversity equals white genocide" and bills itself as "A Nationalist party that shares the customs and heritage of the European American people". "White Americans should push back!" declares the official party platform.
The group denies the historical record of genocidal campaigns that have targeted Native-Americans and actively promotes denial of the Jewish Holocaust, calling it "Perhaps the greatest myth in human history" that is "utilized as an anti-white defamation to foment hatred of European descended people abroad".
AFP positions on immigration align closely with Donald Trump's campaign statements - the AFP advocates mass deportation of illegal aliens and the construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border.
"White supremacists are broadcasting from inside Trump rallies"
After a February 2016 interview with CNN's Jake Tapper during which Donald Trump refused to condemn former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke, Trump came under heavy media scrutiny and criticism, and later released a statement disavowing Duke.
Only a few days before that controversy erupted, the Trump campaign had granted American Freedom Party co-director James Edwards special VIP press credentials, and allowed Edwards and his Political Cesspool tech crew to broadcast a special live segment of Edwards' show from a Trump rally in Memphis, Tennessee.
"White supremacists are broadcasting from inside Trump rallies", announced the Huffington Post story.
Then, in early March 2016, media reports -- which missed the true significance, Edwards leadership role in the AFP -- erroneously heralded an alleged upcoming appearance of Donald Trump, Jr. on James Edwards' Political Cesspool radio show, which is broadcast on Liberty News Radio, which goes out to over a half dozen-odd FM and AM stations in several U.S. states.
Edwards says he was initially contacted by a press agency, working for the Trump campaign, about a possible appearance by Trump, Jr. on Edwards' own radio show. But a scheduling conflict prevented the appearance.
Instead, Edwards arranged for Donald Trump, Jr. to appear on another, closely related radio show hosted by a friend and colleague of Edwards', Sam Bushman: the Liberty Roundtable -- which is broadcast by the same radio network that airs Edwards' radio show and is, in effect, a sister show to Edwards' Political Cesspool, which hosted an appearance by former Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard David Duke in 2015.
Edwards and Liberty Roundtable host Sam Bushman frequently appear as guests and co-hosts on each other's radio shows. Edwards also posts on the Liberty Roundtable website.
"slavery is the greatest thing that ever happened to them"
In a November 14, 2015 confessional titled "My Journey" and published on the Liberty Roundtable website, Edwards wrote,
"White Christians in particular endure daily savaging from the Jewish-dominated news media and entertainment industry, from the Zionist-infiltrated government, from the godless colleges and universities, and from every other outlet of information and influence."
The conspiracy was vast and dark. Edwards warned of "hundreds, maybe thousands of groups, organizations, agencies, movements, and influential people with the stated and apparent agenda to reduce not only the influence of White Christians, but also the numbers of White Christians -- via our genocide."
James Edwards has also expressed the opinion that historic Southern slavery benefited slaves, writing on his Political Cesspool website that,
"For blacks in the Americas, slavery is the greatest thing that ever happened to them. Unfortunately, it's the worst thing that ever happened to white Americans."
Three weeks before Donald Trump, Jr. appeared on the Liberty Roundtable show, the show's website ran a story, by another author (not Edwards), with the title, "Did Illuminati Jewish Banker Poison FDR ?"
"He didn't interview me... I had no idea"
Per his arrangement with Bushman, James Edwards filled in as one of three co-hosts on the Liberty Roundtable radio show segment featuring Donald Trump, Jr.
Despite the fact that the Trump campaign had originally reached out, through a PR firm, for Donald Trump, Jr. to appear on James Edwards' radio show, Donald Trump, Jr. told Bloomberg news that during his interview on the Sam Bushman Liberty Roundtable show that Edwards was, "brought into the interview without my knowledge." Claimed Trump, Jr.,
"I never knew he was in the room so he didn't interview me. He did apparently ask a question or two though. I had no idea."
But according to James Edwards, the Trump campaign knew exactly who he was and had previously vetted his press credentials.
During the March 1st radio segment with Trump, Jr., James Edwards and Sam Bushman were effusive on how accommodating the Trump campaign had been in arranging for the Trump, Jr. appearance. First, James Edwards describes how his live broadcast from the Memphis Trump rally came about.
"They look into it, and vette you"
In the segment of the "Super Tuesday" March 1, 2016 Liberty Roundtable show that featured Donald Trump, Jr., James Edwards stated (starting at 42:40) that,
"I found out, middle of last week, that Donald Trump was going to be in Memphis on Saturday night...
So I went to the campaign website and I applied for press credentials. There's a process you got to go through. And you got to give them all your information. And then, I guess, they look into it, and vette you, and then get back with an approval or a rejection. And, sure enough, the night before the event, I got an email saying that my credentials had been approved, and they gave me all of the protocols with regard to the Secret Service and security and when I was to arrive and where I was to park -- they had a special parking lot -- just all of the logistical information.
And then we go in there, and we do that great show last Saturday night"
Edwards described subsequently receiving an email from a press agency scheduling interviews for Donald Trump, Jr. According to Edwards, the email asked if he'd like to have Donald Trump, Jr. or Eric Trump on his show on Super Tuesday, March 1.
Since Edwards' show only airs on the weekend, he approached his friend Sam Bushman about co-hosting Donald Trump, Jr. on Bushman's Liberty Roundtable show, which airs Monday through Friday each week. So Bushman responded to the press agency on Edwards' behalf.
"like Napalm on a grassroots blaze"
Stated Sam Bushman (at 44:40 in the segment),
"Yeah, they got back to me literally within hours. And then here's the interesting thing. They basically had five minutes, they've got these slots where they're really trying to get out the vote, they're really focused on Super Tuesday. You would think they would have no time for us. Not only did they make time for us, but he stayed what, four times as long as agreed ? On a polite gesture ? He was with us almost twenty minutes. Uh, and he really was willing to talk."
Edwards followed with,
"He doesn't even -- you know, Donald Trump, Jr. and Eric Trump are on all, they're everywhere. You know, they're Trump surrogates. And they are on all the major network television shows, you see 'em on TV everyday. And even on TV they're on for maybe five minutes at a stretch. So for him to give Liberty News Radio Network twenty minutes is incredible.
And it'd be one thing if you're talking about, oh - I don't know -- an officer for some obscure candidate running for senate or, you know... (Bushman: yeah, like an officer for Rand Paul or something, you know) Yeah, even something like that, it'd be hard -- it's unusual, not hard. And we're no better or worse in our ability to get to people as anyone. But, it's just not really common to have somebody on for that length of time.
Bushman responded, "Well, and let's be clear though, too -- it's not just like it's an average day, it's Super Tuesday, people." Reiterating the point, Edwards followed with,
"It's Super -- morning -- yeah. Alright -- the morning of Super Tuesday, the biggest day in the campaign, and you're talking about the guy who has the hammerlock on the Republican nomination, and well on his way to becoming the next president of the United States. The most talked about campaign, perhaps, in American history, and Super Tuesday, and you've got one of their top two spokespeople on for twenty minutes. Wow."
Sam Bushman then enthused,
"This is the kind of stuff I'm talking about. Why can't I get a hold of Rand Paul's staff -- I mean, I get a hold of them and they're like, 'Ah, we're too busy, call me later on in the month', meaning it's never going to happen, see ?
Donald Trump's crew reaches out to us and then I say, 'Let's do an interview' and they say, 'Great ! This is the time that works best for us, does that work for you ?' Um, a little different detail. They've got time on Super Tuesday for us, Rand Paul still doesn't have time for us."
James Edwards went on to speculate about the impact, within their movement, of Donald Trump, Jr.'s appearance on their radio show.
It would be, suggested Edwards, "like Napalm on a grassroots blaze."
A correction: this story originally stated that the Liberty Roundtable radio show, which airs on Liberty News Radio (LNR), hosted an appearance by David Duke in 2015. That was incorrect. Rather, it was the Political Cesspool radio show, which also airs on LRNN, that hosted David Duke in 2015.