"I condemn them. I disavow, and I condemn", Trump told NYT reporters when asked about the alt-right. "And if they are energized I want to look into it and find out why", Maggie Haberman, presidential campaign correspondent, quoted Trump as saying. It is our inheritance and it belongs to us, ' he said.
In one of his most direct repudiations of the once-fringe movement's proximity to his bid for the presidency, Trump finally said Tuesday that "it's not a group I want to energize", during an on-the-record sit-down with the New York Times.
"We need to take this next step in terms of professionalization and in terms of being able to influence people", he told NBC News, adding that he is "very willing to criticize" Trump and say "things that he's not willing or able to say".
An alt-right leader in the United States has been met with Nazi salutes after shouting 'Hail Trump, hail our people, hail victory!'
But Trump denounced the white nationalists Tuesday. The audience then cheers and salutes. Spencer said to cheers that were shown in video snippets that have since been viewed hundreds of thousands of times online.
At another point, Spencer said that to be "white is to be a striver, an explorer and a conqueror".
Trump's immigration policy in particular has faced criticism and following his surprise defeat of Hillary Clinton in November's USA election concerns have frequently been raised over the support his campaign received from white supremacist groups.
The alt-right movement has gained attention and support throughout Trump's election and particularly through his appointment of Steve Bannon, the former head of alt-right friendly Breitbart News, to be a senior strategist in the West Wing.
It recently emerged Mr Bannon's ex-wife accused him of making anti-Semitic remarks when selecting a school for their twin daughters to attend.
The alt-right movement came to the fore during the U.S. presidential election.