And it comes on the eve of an alt-right inaugural celebration called the DeploraBall — a play off of Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” campaign remark.
Look no further than the white nationalist who coined the term alt-right, Richard Spencer. He’s the same man who stood at a podium shortly after Donald Trump’s election and, in a video that went viral, shouted “Hail Trump!” while several in the crowd celebrated the victory with a Nazi salute.
But listen to him now, you’ll notice a marked shift in tone when speaking of the man who will become the 45th President of the United States.
“I have described it as the morning-after period. We got euphoric and a little drunk on success,” Spencer, director of the white nationalist think tank National Policy Institute, told CNN. “I am getting worried that he won’t work on really big important issues like immigration — that he’ll get caught up on little things like making fun of people on Twitter.”
Some others in the alt-right are starting to wonder if Trump is really their guy. They’ve become increasingly critical of his Cabinet picks, and the fact that he’s admitted that Russia did in fact engage in hacking leading up to the election.
Last month, Spencer even tweeted, “The #AltRight was aligned with the Trump cheerleaders for 2016. That period is over.”
But whether Spencer agrees with Trump or not, his “Hail Trump” speech has had a major impact on the alt-right. Since video of it emerged, there’s been a split of alt-righters who believe the neo-Nazi rhetoric has hurt their own cause.
So now, they’re feuding among themselves — some of them distancing themselves from the alt-right label, although many of the extreme nationalist views remain.
“There is a major division going on,” Spencer said. “I feel like there’s this overreaction to Hail-gate, as we’re calling it. Some people overreacted and allowed the mainstream media to set the rules for the game.”
Spencer is a white nationalist who believes that there should be a “peaceful ethnic cleansing,” where people who are not of European descent voluntarily leave the United States.
He says he briefly entertained a run for the US House seat from Montana expected to be open when Rep. Ryan Zinke is confirmed as Trump’s interior secretary. Spencer said he decided against it, although that doesn’t mean he has any intention of sitting things out. He said he is planning to purchase a house in Washington, where he plans to hold events and create a video production studio.
‘White identity politics’
“The alt-right has become about white identity politics,” said Mike Cernovich, who drew ire from alt-righters on social media after he told them they were not welcome at his DeploraBall on the eve of Trump’s inauguration in Washington. “Obviously I’m not a white-identitarian, so the alt-right can do their thing. I’m a nationalist and populist. I care about national sovereignty of America.”
Cernovich told CNN that he rescinded an invitation to an alt-right social media personality known by many names, one being Tim Treadstone, who originally was a co-planner of the DeploraBall after Treadstone posted anti-Semitic Twitter posts.
“We aren’t going to tolerate incendiary acts to disrupt this event,” said Jeff Giesea, who is helping to organize the DeploraBall. “We can’t control everything or everybody. If that happens we will make clear that’s not what we’re about. That’s not welcome.” Treadstone did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
But still on the invite list is Milo Yiannopolous, a known extremist who wrote for Breitbart news and is a notorious internet troll. He was banned from Twitter in July after targeting Ghostbusters and SNL actress Leslie Jones with racist and abusive tweets.
Another name on the event’s posters is Alex Jones of InfoWars, a man famous for peddling far-right conspiracy theories like the one calling the Sandy Hook school shooting a hoax.
And Jack Posobiec, another of the DeploraBall’s organizers, has been accused of creating a “Rape Melania” sign in order to create bad publicity for anti-Trump protesters. Posobiec did not respond to CNN’s request for an interview.
Then, when negotiations fell through for the original event space organizers had in mind, the venue, the Clarendon Ballroom, says it began getting threatening calls from Trump supporters. The event will now be held at the National Press Club.
Keep in mind, the alt-right is a relatively small group of people who mostly congregate on Twitter and the dark web. But in the past two years, they’ve become more public, and are pushing their way into the mainstream. Cernovich says 1,000 DeploraBall tickets sold out in about 24 hours.
But the alt-right has always been a fractured movement, made up of differing racist views. Some are clearly anti-Semitic, while others are accepting of Jews. Almost all of them are pro-radical immigration reform.
This latest divide seems to be fueled somewhat by optics. Some members trying to appear less extreme have denounced the neo-Nazi symbolism as they try to court college students and disenfranchised Americans.
Unhappy with Trump over nominees, Russia
It isn’t just Spencer who’s disillusioned with the incoming President.
Other white supremacists told CNN they’re frustrated — they believed Trump would align more closely with their white nationalist and racist views. Their comments are, at times, very alarming, and too incendiary to print.
While there seems to be uniform support for Trump’s pick for attorney general, Jeff Sessions, a man accused of making racist comments against African Americans — noted Klansman and white nationalist David Duke praised the choice — the rest of his Cabinet nominees are not as popular to this group.
White supremacists have taken issue with fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder, tapped for labor secretary, South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley, picked to be the US ambassador to the United Nations, and Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn, Trump’s pick for top economic adviser.
A recent episode of The Daily Shoah, a neo-Nazi podcast on an extremist online radio station called The Right Stuff, guests discussed their anger at Trump, lamenting, “Trump is not ideologically on board with us.” Another person chimed in, “this goes into ‘he lied to us territory.’ ” Yet another said, “All the picks have been bad.”
Andrew Anglin, the founder of the neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, said “an end to the hostility with Russia is something we did expect.”
He said, “whites need to ally together against their enemies, and a big part of the reason we elected Trump is to form a good relationship with Russia.”
Anglin told CNN that he is sending representatives on his behalf to DC for the purpose of protesting DeploraBall organizer Mike Cernovich after Cernovich allegedly exposed the head of neo-nazi site “The Right Stuff” for having a secret Jewish wife.
Anglin also said his people also plan to protest Milo Yiannopoulos, demanding that he be “deported to Israel.”
Yiannopoulos is Jewish but has spoken disparagingly about Jews.
Jared Taylor, a self-described white nationalist who campaigned for Trump, said it was foolish for members of the alt-right to believe that Trump would actually appoint white nationalists to his Cabinet.
“If they ever thought that Donald Trump was a racially conscious advocate for white people, they were wrong,” Taylor said. “I never thought that, but I certainly considered him to be a vastly superior alternative. … He was never a candidate in line with my views. Donald Trump is an American nationalist, but he doesn’t think in racial terms. Donald Trump has some instinctive sense that we can’t just let anyone in here.”
It’s not shocking that the alt-right isn’t all on the same page. Even before they rose to national prominence and began to speak more publicly — more than just the dark corners of the web — they were a fractured movement, riddled with feuds and disagreements.
Taylor, once a mentor to Spencer before a falling out, admitted that.
“Every movement does better when the people in that movement have a firm grasp of reality,” he said. “So to the extent that people might be disappointed with Donald Trump, if it gives them a clearer view, then they’ll have to be disappointed.”
CNN’s Curt Devine contributed to this report.