Two members of Donald Trump’s inner circle shared memes on social media over the weekend featuring a symbol popular with the white nationalist alt-right.
Riffing off of Hillary Clinton’s remark that some of Trump’s supporters are racists, misogynists, and xenophobes who belong in a “basket of deplorables,” the meme shared by Donald Trump Jr. and Trump ally Roger Stone showed key Trump allis photoshopped onto a poster from the move “The Expendables.” In the edited poster for “The Deplorables,” those armed staffers and Trump boosters are shown alongside Pepe the Frog, a cartoon figure that first cropped up on the 4chan website and has since become associated with the white supremacist movement online.
Trump, Indiana Gov. Mike Pence (R), New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), Ben Carson, conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, and alt-right figurehead Milo Yiannopoulos were among those in included in the image.
“Apparently I made the cut as one of the Deplorables,” Trump Jr. wrote on Instagram in a caption accompanying the meme, saying he was “honored” to be grouped among Trump’s supporters.
Informal Trump advisor Roger Stone shared the same image on Twitter, saying he was “so proud to be one of the Deplorables.”
— Roger Stone (@RogerJStoneJr) September 10, 2016
Pepe the Frog has emerged as an unofficial mascot of the alt-right, a loosely defined group of white nationalists who congregate online to debate IQ differences between the races and joke about burning Jewish journalists in ovens.
Last fall, Trump himself shared a meme featuring himself as president Pepe. He has retweeted users with handles like @WhiteGenocideTM on multiple occasions.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 13, 2015
Trump has disavowed support from the alt-right and white supremacists like former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke, though he hired Steve Bannon, chairman of the alt-right promoting Breitbart News, as his campaign CEO in August.
Clinton has argued that Trump has mainstreamed extremist, racist views with his comments on immigration and minorities. She gave a speech shortly after Bannon was hired linking Trump’s campaign to the “radical fringe.”