Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for Charlottesville violence
President Donald Trump again said that “both sides” are to blame for violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, returning to an argument that has sparked a furor among Democrats, corporate CEOs, and even some Republicans.
August 15, 2017 - 4:08 pm
WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump again said that “both sides” are to blame for violence in Charlottesville over the weekend, returning to an argument that has sparked a furor among Democrats, corporate CEOs, and even some Republicans.
Speaking to the press at Trump Tower in New York, Trump said that “you had a group on one side and you have a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs. It was vicious and it was horrible. It was a horrible thing to watch. I think there’s blame on both sides.”
Trump on Monday made a statement at the White House specifically called out neo-Nazis, the KKK and other hate groups, a move at damage control after his initial remarks about Charlottesville was viewed as insufficient. He said on Saturday that “many sides” share the blame for violence and bigotry
At the press conference, When he was asked about the alt-right, Trump turned to what he called the “alt-left.”
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”
He again condemned neo-Nazis, but said that not all of those marching were racists. “Not all of these people are neo-Nazis. Not all of those people are white supremacists, by any stretch.”
He said of the Friday march, in which hundreds on the University of Virginia with tiki torches, “There were people protesting very quietly, the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.” He said that the next day, it looked like there were some “rough, bad people’ who showed up, including neo-Nazis and white nationalists “whatever you want to call them. There were a lot of people there who wanted to innocently protest.”
Trump also defended his initial statement on Saturday about the Charlottesville unrest. “It takes a little while to get the facts,” he said.
“Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts,” Trump said.
Trump also attacked the movement to remove symbols of the Confederacy, like statues of generals in public parks.” The Charlottesville rally was set up to protest plans to remove a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a public park.
“This week it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
Trump asked, “George Washington was a slave owner. Are we going to take down statues of George Washington?” He added that “you’re changing history. You’re changing culture.”
Trump also was critical of the CEOs who resigned from his manufacturing council in the wake of the uproar over the president’s response to the Charlottesville violence.
“I will tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they’re leaving out of embarrassment because they made their products outside and I’ve been lecturing them,” he said.
Trump also was asked about the future of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon. ‘We’ll see what happens,” he said.
“I like Mr. Bannon. He’s a friend of mine,” he said. “… He is not a racist. I can tell you that. He actually gets a lot of unfair press…I think the press treats him very unfairly.”
Bannon’s future has been the topic of intense speculation, along with what has been intense rivalry between factions in the White House. Bannon represents the populist, nationalist side of policy debate, while cadre of New York advisers, including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, represent the moderate establishment.