Former Republican Leader of the House John Boehner has claimed there are “Nazis” serving in Congress
“We’ve got some of the smartest people in America who serve in the Congress, and we’ve got some of the dumbest”, Mr Boehner said. “We have some of the nicest people you’d ever want to meet, and some that are Nazis”.
The Ohio Republican and former Speaker of the House talked candidly about his former congressional colleagues in a lengthy article.
After presiding over a caucus fractured by the rise of the Tea Party, which propelled multiple challenges to his leadership, Mr Boehner ultimately stepped down. He has since become a critic of Donald Trump, whom he described as a “populist” without “an ideological bone in his body”, but he said Mr Trump is not prejudiced.
“I do not believe that he is a racist. I do not believe that he is a white supremacist,” Mr Boehner told POLITICO Magazine. “He has clearly done some things to lead people who never liked him to say those things about him.”
But by labelling unnamed members of Congress “Nazis”, Mr Boehner invoked a spectre that has been haunting American politics this year.
White supremacists, some of them organized under the broad label of the “alt-right”, have been increasingly vocal and public in advancing their nationalist vision. Former White House adviser Stephen Bannon, who helped manage Mr Trump’s campaign and for months served as a top aide before stepping down, has returned to his role managing Breitbart News, which he once proclaimed a “platform for the alt-right”.
In August, protesters including the KKK and Neo-Nazis marched on Charlottesville, Virginia to demonstrate against the removal of a statue of confederate general Robert E Lee. After a car plowed into a crowd of counterprotestors, killing a woman, Mr Trump faced widespread criticism for saying there was "blame on both sides". That led Rep Maxine Waters, a California Democrat and fierce antagonist of Mr Trump, to call the White House the “White Supremacists' House.”
Both Mr Trump, Mr Bannon and those who know them have consistently denied that they hold bigoted views.