On Monday evening, California’s secretary of state published a list of delegates chosen by the Trump campaign for the upcoming Republican presidential primary in the state. Trump’s slate includes William Johnson, one of the country’s most prominent white nationalists. [Update: Responding to this story late Tuesday, the Trump campaign blamed Johnson’s selection on a “database error,” and Johnson told Mother Jones he would resign. Here are documents showing the Trump campaign’s personal correspondence with Johnson yesterday.]
Johnson applied to the Trump campaign to be a delegate. He was accepted on Monday. In order to be approved he had to sign this pledge sent to him by the campaign: “I, William Johnson, endorse Donald J. Trump for the office of President of the United States. I pledge to cast ALL of my ballots to elect Donald J. Trump on every round of balloting at the 2016 Republican National Convention so that we can MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN!” After he signed, the Trump campaign added his name to the list of 169 delegates it forwarded to the secretary of state.
“I can be a white nationalist and be a strong supporter of Donald Trump and be a good example to everybody,” Johnson says.
Johnson leads the American Freedom Party, a group that “exists to represent the political interests of White Americans” and aims to preserve “the customs and heritage of the European American people.” The AFP has never elected a candidate of its own and possesses at most a few thousand members, but it is “arguably the most important white nationalist group in the country,” according to Mark Potok, a senior fellow for the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), which tracks hate groups.
Johnson got the news that he had been selected by Trump in a congratulatory email sent to him by the campaign’s California delegate coordinator, Katie Lagomarsino. “I just hope to show how I can be mainstream and have these views,” Johnson tells Mother Jones. “I can be a white nationalist and be a strong supporter of Donald Trump and be a good example to everybody.”
Johnson says that in his application to be a delegate for Trump he disclosed multiple details about his background and activism, though he did not specifically use the term “white nationalist.”