In a heated, off-the-cuff press conference, the president defended the racists who marched in Charlottesville and blamed the deadly violence on “both sides.”
President Donald Trump delivered an address Tuesday that made him sound like President of the Confederacy.
Trump went on an angry defense of the racists who sparked riots that led to a suspected terror attack and three deaths in Charlottesville this weekend, inaccurately blaming much of the violence on the “alt-left.”
Trump also defended the monuments of Confederate-era leaders — the people who went to war in an effort to maintain slavery in the United States — that are widely being taken down, both quietly and with fanfare, in cities around the nation for glorifying the greatest stain on American history.
And Trump defended himself, saying his painfully slow response to condemning white supremacy after the riots was a result of him needing to “get the facts” before speaking quickly — even though that has not stopped him from making hasty remarks in previous incidents in which the alleged perpetrators were not white.
Trump’s comments came during his first visit to his New York home, Trump Tower, since the inauguration — a place where he feels emboldened and to which he returned almost nightly during his presidential campaign.
His frustrated remarks, held in the ornate gold lobby of his tower, came after a dizzying day on Twitter for the president and at a time when his legislative agenda is stalled. Trump on Tuesday used his Twitter account to promote a conspiracy theorist who has pushed hoaxes about Melania Trump, to again endorse violence against the journalists of a news agency, and to deride business leaders who left his councils because of his weak response to the events of Charlottesville.
Comparing Robert E. Lee to George Washington
Defending the purpose of Saturday’s march in Charlottesville — said to be the largest gathering of white supremacists in decades — Trump said people were just there to protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue.
He then equated Confederate leaders like Lee and Stonewall Jackson to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, noting that the two presidents and Founding Fathers owned slaves.
“This week it’s Robert E. Lee, and this week, Stonewall Jackson,” Trump told reporters, echoing a line that’s been circulating among right-wing commentators in recent days. “Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
“Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson?” he continued. “What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? You like him. Good. Are we going to take down his statue? He was a major slave owner. You are changing history and culture.”
Defending white supremacist protesters
Trump then said, again, that both sides were to blame for the violence in Virginia over the weekend, repeating a similar remark he’d made Saturday in the immediate aftermath of the rallies.
“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” Trump said Tuesday. “Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”
Protecting those who attended the “Unite the Right” rally, the president tried to blame the “alt-left” — a construction pushed by the extreme right to counter critics of the growing alt-right movement — for the violence. This is not true.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump demanded. “What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Trump then demanded to know why the press has not focused more on liberal protesters in Charlottesville, whom he portrayed as equally violent to the white supremacist groups that organized the weekend’s rallies. Both groups “came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and horrible,” Trump said. This is not borne out by witnesses who were actually at the scene.
“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” Trump said. “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people but you also had troublemakers.”
Circling back to the argument “there is another side,” Trump again lobbed blame at the “left.”
“There was a group on this side, you can call them the left,” he said. “You have just called them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. You can say what you want. That’s the way it is.”
He also defended the hundreds of Tiki-torch-wielding protesters who surrounded a group of University of Virginia students at a statue of the school’s founder, Thomas Jefferson, on Friday night.
“If you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said, before conceding, “I am sure there were some bad ones.”
Videos from the march, however, show several hundred white supremacists chanting slogans like “Jews will not replace us”; “end immigration”; “one people, one nation”; and “blood and soil,” a Nazi-linked phrase referencing ethnic descent and territory.
On Tuesday – during a press conference at Trump Tower – US President Donald Trump defended the actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville over the weekend, saying there was, “some very fine people on both sides.”
Drew Angerer / Getty Images
Source: news Us