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Mayor Bill de Blasio criticizes Donald Trump over David Duke

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks in Far Rockaway, Queens on Thursday, Aug. 20, 2015. Credit: Charles Eckert

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday railed against Donald Trump’s declining to disavow a Ku Klux Klan leader during a CNN interview, accusing the Republican presidential campaign front-runner of taking “his xenophobia to a whole new level.”

Trump was endorsed by the white supremacist group’s grand wizard David Duke, but would not distance himself from Duke when given three openings to do so Sunday on “State of the Union.”

Trump, speaking Monday on NBC’s “Today” show, blamed a “bad earpiece” and said he had disavowed Duke on Friday.

De Blasio, a Democrat supporting Hillary Clinton for president, appeared flabbergasted by the billionaire businessman’s latest racially charged scandal.

“This is unbelievable,” the mayor said at a Washington Heights event. “You would think one thing that could be agreed upon by Democrat, Republican, conservative and liberal is that the KKK played a horrible role in this nation’s history, a heinous and violent and fundamentally un-American role in our history.”

He called the concept of failing to denounce Duke “disgusting” and “beyond the pale.”

De Blasio also labeled an endorsement of Trump by New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as “opportunism.” Of Christie, he said a leader who considers himself a “northeastern moderate Republican” should be challenged on his link to Trump.

Asked for a response, Christie spokesman Kevin Roberts referenced de Blasio’s six-month delay in officially supporting Clinton.

“As someone who staged one of the most agonizingly helpless and drawn-out endorsements in his own party, the mayor is hardly someone to listen to on these matters,” Roberts said.

Christie himself would not take questions about Trump at a news conference Monday.

A Trump campaign spokeswoman did not return a request for comment about the mayor.

De Blasio has criticized Trump previously for comments made against Muslims, women and other groups.

He predicted that Trump’s latest scandals — which included retweeting a quote by Italian fascist leader Benito Mussolini — would get voters “motivated” in the general election.

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