Joe Scarborough on Donald Trump's 'disqualifying' moment

Trump: 'I know nothing about white supremacists'
Trump: 'I know nothing about white supremacists'

MSNBC's Joe Scarborough, who has been criticized for being too favorable toward Donald Trump, said Monday that the GOP frontrunner's failure to disavow the support of former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke disqualified him from being president.

On Monday, the "Morning Joe" co-host lit into Trump for failing to condemn the Klan and Duke, the former KKK "grand wizard" who has effectively endorsed Trump. In an interview with CNN's "State Of The Union" on Sunday, Trump said he "didn't know anything about David Duke."

"The Republican frontrunner's failure to provide what should have been a simple answer has raised even more disturbing questions about the man who is on course to lock down the GOP's nomination for president," Scarborough wrote in the first edition of his new column for The Washington Post.

"Sunday's distressing performance is just the latest in a string of incidents that suggest to critics that Donald Trump is using bigotry to fuel his controversial campaign," he wrote.

joe scarborough trump
Joe Scarborough distanced himself from Donald Trump.

Related: Donald Trump, 'Morning Joe' hosts hot mic chatter fuels favoritism charge

On Monday's edition of "Morning Joe," Scarborough called Trump's move "disqualifying."

"To say you don't know about the Ku Klux Klan? You don't know about David Duke? And the most stunning thing is. This isn't buying him a single vote. Is he really so stupid that he think Southerners aren't offended by the Ku Klux Klan and David Duke?" he said.

Scarborough's fierce rebuke of Trump is a departure from the host's usual attitude toward Trump, which has been both favorable and laudatory. For weeks, several NBC News and MSNBC insiders have complained that Scarborough was promoting Trump on his show, and Scarborough even boasted about visiting Trump to offer him debate advice.

Related: Scarborough-Trump friendship increasing source of discomfort at NBC

Though Trump has said multiple times that he disavows both Duke and the KKK, he is still being called upon to explain the remarks he made on CNN Sunday.

In an interview with NBC's "Today" show on Monday, Trump blamed a poor earpiece: "I'm sitting in a house in Florida with a very bad earpiece they gave me," he told NBC.

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"What I heard was 'various groups.' I have no problem disavowing groups, but I'd at least like to know who they are," he said. "It'd be very unfair disavowing a group if they shouldn't be disavowed."

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