Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke said in an interview with Fusion on Monday that not only did House Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) speak at a 2002 meeting of a group he led, but that the two of them also met on several occasions.
Duke’s comments came as Scalise is dealing with the fallout of revelations that he spoke to the white nationalist group and that, in 1999, he reportedly said he agreed with Duke on “conservative” issues but questioned the ex-KKK leader’s electability to Congress.
“Why is Scalise being singled out? I don’t know,” Duke told Fusion about the 2002 meeting. “He was just going there, obviously, to tell voters about some of his initiatives on some tax matters. That’s what it’s all about. And I think it’s insane, this whole process.”
Duke’s comments came with a warning to Republicans who might be quick to distance themselves from Scalise.
“If Scalise is going to be crucified — if Republicans want to throw Steve Scalise to the woods, then a lot of them better be looking over their shoulders,” Duke told Fusion. He added that he wasn’t afraid to release a list of names of politicians he has connections to.
Duke also disputed accusations that he was a “racist” or “white supremacist,” saying the political scorn being directed at him was “all bullshit.”
Both Scalise and Duke served in Louisiana’s House of Representatives. Duke held office from 1989-1992, with multiple unsuccessful bids in the late 90s, and Scalise served from 1996-2008.
In the interview with Fusion, Duke maintained that the two didn’t really have a professional, business or political relationship.
Ahiza Garcia is a newswriter based in New York City. Before joining TPM, Ahiza interned and freelanced for Nightline, Fox Sports, and ESPN the Magazine. She holds a B.A. in psychology from Columbia University and an M.S. in digital journalism from Syracuse University. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.