The chief White House strategist Steve Bannon has attacked white nationalists as “clowns” as the fallout from violent protests in Charlottesville continues.
Mr Bannon once headed the far-right Breitbart News, seen as both a major channel for nationalism and key in helping Donald Trump win election.
But Mr Bannon told Prospect magazine: “Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers”.
Questions surround Mr Bannon’s future, with President Trump refusing to say if he had confidence in him.
Mr Trump is reportedly under pressure to fire Mr Bannon, who in his role has enjoyed direct access to the president and whose influence has been seen in decisions like the US withdrawing from the Paris climate accord.
At a news conference this week Mr Trump would only say “we’ll see” when it came to Mr Bannon’s future.
Mr Trump is under fire for his response to the clashes between far-right and counter protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, in which he blamed “both sides” for the violence.
In his interview, Mr Bannon was asked if there was a connection between his policy of economic nationalism and the white nationalism seen in Charlottesville.
“Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers,” he said. “It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we gotta help crush it, you know, uh, help crush it more.”
“These guys are a collection of clowns,” he added.
Mr Bannon has distanced himself from “ethno-nationalism” before, telling the New York Times his interest in nationalism stems from wanting to curb the negative effects of globalisation.