After President Donald Trump denounced "white supremacists" and "hate groups" Monday in remarks about the violence over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is calling on the president to fire his chief strategist, Steve Bannon.
Bannon has been singled out by critics of the administration who believe his viewpoints reflect that of the so-called "alt-right," a right-wing group with ideologies often defined as promoting white nationalism. In Charlottesville, a white nationalist rally protesting the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee erupted in violence Saturday, eventually leading to the death of a woman who was struck by a car driven by an alleged Nazi sympathizer into a group of counter-protesters.
"If the president is sincere about rejecting white supremacists, he should remove all doubt by firing Steve Bannon and the other alt-right white supremacist sympathizers in the White House," said Pelosi, D-Calif. in a statement Monday. The minority leader additionally described Bannon as "shameless enforcer of those un-American beliefs."
In November, upon Bannon's appointment to the White House team, Pelosi released a statement in which she called the former executive chair of the conservative news outlet Breitbart a "white nationalist" and criticized his hiring by Trump.
"Bringing Steve Bannon into the White House is an alarming signal that President-elect Trump remains committed to the hateful and divisive vision that defined his campaign," said Pelosi at the time. "There must be no sugarcoating the reality that a white nationalist has been named chief strategist for the Trump administration."
On Monday, Pelosi was one of many politicians who expressed their disappointment with Trump's delay in forcefully identifying and condemning the hate groups involved in the rally and subsequent clashes.
"It shouldn’t take the president of the United States two days to summon the basic decency to condemn murder and violence by Nazis and white supremacists," she said.
Pelosi's call for Bannon's dismissal came the same day that the leader of the Anti-Defamation League, an advocacy group that combats anti-Semitism, told reporters that he thinks there should be a government inquiry into whether members of the White House staff have "links to white supremacy or white nationalist organizations."
"I think the appropriate thing is to use the Department of Justice and Office of Government Ethics to do the investigation themselves," said Jonathan A. Greenblat, the CEO of the ADL. He added, "The best way to determine if there are people with links these organizations is to use government resources," rather than to simply take their word for it.
Bannon has previously denied that his political beliefs are racist in interviews given shortly after Trump's election victory last year.
"I'm not a white nationalist, I'm a nationalist," Bannon told The Hollywood Reporter in November, explaining that his positions have been misinterpreted and are pegged to economic policies intended to assist the "American working class."