William Daniel Johnson, the leader of the white-nationalist American Freedom Party, was selected as a delegate from California on Donald Trump’s slate, Mother Jones reported Tuesday. Johnson allegedly disclosed details about his extremist political beliefs in the application to become delegate and he has been an outspoken supporter of the presumptive Republican nominee in recent months, setting up robocalls in various states on his behalf as well as a hotline for Trump supporters who have felt “marginalized.”
After the news broke, Johnson was contacted by Tim Clark, Trump’s California chairman, and was told “you are not being considered for a delegate position,” he told The Daily Beast.
Johnson then sent an email stating he understood, and that he “hereby resigned as a delegate” and said he hadn’t discussed the matter further with anyone else from the Trump campaign. Looking back, he says he understands why he got thrown under the bus.
“I don’t want to negatively impact Trump’s efforts,” he told The Daily Beast. “And his campaign has determined that my involvement is not best for his efforts. So I accept that. We live in a society where white people hate white people who like white people. And me being a white nationalist doesn’t sit well with some people… So I understand his campaign’s concerns, and I support… [Trump’s decision to] not having me as a delegate.”
In a Tuesday afternoon statement, however, the Trump campaign said, “a database error led to the inclusion of a potential delegate that had been rejected and removed from the campaign’s list in February 2016.”
Johnson also donated $250 to Trump in September 2015, according to Federal Election Commission filings. And after outcry over Johnson’s white-nationalist views, Trump said in February, “I would certainly return it if you think it is appropriate,” and eventually did send back the funds. Additionally, through his American National Super PAC, Johnson contributed nearly $13,000 for various pro-white radio advertisements on behalf of Trump's campaign.
—Gideon Resnick & Asawin Suebsaeng