Steve Bannon, the White House chief strategist, has attacked white nationalists "a collection of clowns".
His comments follow the violence in Charlottesville and US President Donald Trump's own much-criticised statements about the events which saw a 32-year-old woman was killed after a suspected far-right sympathiser rammed a group of counter-protesters with a car.
Bannon's comments are significant as the former editor of the Breitbart website is himself considered to have far-right sympathies.
In the wake of Charlottesville, four minority House caucus groups called for Bannon - along with White House aides Stephen Miller and Sebastian Gorka - to be fired saying his presence in the White House was emboldening white supremacists.
In an interview with American Prospect, Bannon was asked about the link between economic nationalism and the white nationalism seen in Charlottesville.
Bannon told the magazine: "Ethno-nationalism — it's losers. 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."
He also reportedly said: "These guys are a collection of clowns."
Bannon's comments are in contrast to Trump's statements on the events in Charlottesville.
The US president initially condemned "violence on many sides".
Under pressure Trump branded white supremacists "criminals and thugs", only to row back on that in a freewheeling press conference in which he insisted there was "blame on both sides".
Bannon has found himself in and out of favour with Trump, but earlier this week the president passed up an opportunity to offer a public vote of confidence in him.