WASHINGTON ― When Donald Trump supporters protested outside the headquarters of the Republican National Committee earlier this week in Washington, D.C., one sign made headlines for its vulgarity: “Better to Grab a P***y Than To Be One.” The man holding the sign, which makes light of Trump’s boast that he can grope women with impunity, has ties to white nationalist groups.
Devin Saucier has attended events with prominent “suit-and-tie” white nationalists; is associated with a Virginia-based group that the Daily Beast described as “white-power wolf cult”; and co-founded a controversial student group at Vanderbilt University that fought against diversity.
In a YouTube video posted on Oct. 10 from a pro-Trump rally, the man holding the sign says he’s from Fairfax, Virginia, and identifies himself as Devin Saucier, spelling his first and last names. His appearance in the footage resembles photographs and video of the same Devin Saucier who co-founded the Vanderbilt student group and has been linked to white nationalists.
Saucier did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton has painted many Trump supporters as “racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic — you name it.” Although many conservatives took issue with her description of Trump supporters as a “basket of deplorables,” members of the so-called alt-Right, a group that seeks to distinguish itself from mainstream conservatism by openly supporting racist and anti-Semitic policies, have openly embraced the label. And Saucier’s ties to people involved with the movement go way back.
As a student at Vanderbilt, Saucier helped found a chapter of the national organization The Youth for Western Civilization. Carol Swain, a conservative law professor at Vanderbilt who is black, recalls that the group “didn’t do anything controversial, other than, you know, push for traditional values.” Swain, who is against the Black Lives Matter movement, has written about the danger of a new white nationalism.
But at the time, The Youth for Western Civilization “really was a racist group,” said Mark Potok, a senior fellow at the Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit that tracks hate groups.
Jesse Jones, a student at the time who wrote libertarian-leaning op-eds for the main campus newspaper, said Saucier’s views “did freak me out.” He recalled that it was a “blood and soil”-type nationalist movement. In emails he exchanged with Saucier in 2009, Saucier — using the same overtly academic language that has become a hallmark of the alt-right — argued that “multiculturalism is the fundamental belief that all cultures are equal, an idea which we oppose.”
In the lengthy exchange, he denied that his organization was fascist, and separately argued against immigration. (”Mexico deals w/ unemployment by telling their unemployed to migrate north,” he wrote.) In another response, he said he would like to see a curriculum where “we don’t just learn that George Washington was a slave owner, but that he had some fine characteristics as well.”
In 2010, Saucier’s group invited Richard Spencer, a white nationalist who has since become a prominent member of the pro-Trump “alt-Right,” to speak. In his speech, Spencer made the argument that the word diversity should be substituted with “anti-white discrimination.” Spencer did not respond to a request for comment.
Jones said that at the time, he worried about what Saucier’s small intellectual movement represented and how it might gain a less-educated following down the road — a prediction that appears to have been prescient. Jones was dismayed to learn that it was his former classmate holding the pro-Trump “p***y” sign.
Saucier has appeared in photos of gatherings from the Wolves of Vinland, “a neo-pagan group that celebrates a guy [Maurice “Hjalti” Michaely] who tried to burn down a black church,” according to the Daily Beast. A Facebook screenshot on a website that follows the group shows a user named Devin Saucier “liking” a post that shows Michaely in prison and says, “free Hjalti you fucking pricks.”
Saucier has also recently appeared at events with Jared Taylor, editor of the pseudo-academic journal American Renaissance, which promotes “a variety of white racial positions,” according to the website’s tagline.
At an event at the National Press Club in May 2015, “Prospects for Black America,” Taylor asked if the panel would consider whether the answer to the question of “what’s up with black people” was “partially, at least, heritable genetic traits.” Taylor did not respond to a request for comment.
Potok, from the Southern Poverty Law Center, said he is not surprised “in the least” that people with Saucier’s views are still showing up to support Trump. The Republican nominee has given the white nationalist movement an unprecedented platform — “I will be profoundly grateful to Donald Trump for the rest of my life,” Spencer tweeted on Friday. The numerous sexual misconduct allegations lodged against Trump recently don’t seem to be changing that support. (Trump denies the allegations.)
“I don’t think anyone is surprised that Trump may talk like that behind closed doors,” Saucier told a newscaster on Monday. “No one thinks he’s the most morally upstanding guy, but he’s our guy.”
Editor’s note: Donald Trump regularly incites political violence and is a serial liar, rampant xenophobe, racist, misogynist and birther who has repeatedly pledged to ban all Muslims — 1.6 billion members of an entire religion — from entering the U.S.