Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida, criticized White House aides Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller by name on Monday evening, arguing that it’s “pretty clear” the two staffers think alt-right groups “should be accommodated.”
The GOP congressman’s comments follow a weekend of unrest and violence in the United States as demonstrators took to the streets of Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, where a white supremacist rally was scheduled to take place.
One person died and several more were injured when a car drove through a crowd of counterprotesters.
“I think that the President would go a long way toward improving his approval rating if he starts listening to others, not those who have taken him down this path,” Curbelo said in an interview on CNN’s “Erin Burnett OutFront” Monday evening. But when asked if the aides should be fired, Curbelo said: “I don’t know if they need to be fired, maybe they need to be marginalized, maybe the President just needs to start taking advice from the right people.”
When asked if he thinks “there’s more than one person who supports the alt-right in the President’s inner circle,” Curbelo said: “I do believe so.”
The decision to name Bannon, who formerly was the editor of right-wing news website Breitbart, as chief White House strategist was praised by many white nationalist leaders. Curbelo said Monday that Miller has also been tied to ideologies of the alt-right – a white supremacist movement that Trump himself has disavowed.
In the wake of the Charlottesville violence, many activists on Twitter demanded that Bannon and Miller step down.
“I’m not saying these people are racists, I’m not saying that they want to advance a racist agenda, but it is pretty clear that they believe that these groups should be accommodated,” Curbelo said.
A White House spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment when asked about Curbelo’s comments about a desire to accommodate such groups.
“Racism is evil – and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said.