×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

Trump Again Blames ‘Both Sides’ for Charlottesville Violence in Combative Press Conference

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.

“You had some very bad people in that group. You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he said.

Reporters seemed stunned at Trump’s remarks, and that he engaged them in trying to make his case that there was an equivalence between the actions of the demonstrators and the counter-demonstrators. Trump’s chief of staff, John Kelly, who had been expected to create a more disciplined White House operation, at times stared at the floor as Trump sparred with journalists. Some white supremacist figures, like David Duke and Richard Spencer, praised the remarks.

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 evening 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.” But “there were a lot of people there who wanted to innocently protest.”

But video of that march, in particular that captured by Vice Media, shows large crowds of protesters shouting epithets and statements like “Jews will not replace us.”

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. He said that Bannon “came on very late.”

“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. On Monday, the New York Times reported that Rupert Murdoch urged Trump to fire Bannon, but that Trump was getting other advice to retain him.

Bannon represents the populist, nationalist side of policy debate, while a cadre of New York advisers, including daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner, represent the moderate establishment. If Bannon departs, it’s believed that he could return to Breitbart or some other media venture.

Trump’s latest remarks started a new round of consternation among Republicans, many of whom had hoped that Trump’s comments at Monday would start to put the issue behind them.

“We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity,” House Speaker Paul Ryan wrote on Twitter.

Marco Rubio said that Trump’s equivalence was unacceptable.

 

More Biz

  • Kevin Tsujihara

    Kevin Tsujihara's Ouster Kicks Off a Week of Major Disruption in the Media Business

    The sudden ouster of Warner Bros. Entertainment chief Kevin Tsujihara kicked off what is likely to go down as one of the most extraordinary weeks in Hollywood history, spelling enormous turmoil and transition across the media landscape. In addition to the news about Tsujihara, which comes amid a wider shake-up of leadership at AT&T’s WarnerMedia, [...]

  • Disney Fox mega deal acquisition Illustration

    Disney Completes 21st Century Fox Acquisition

    Before the East Coast airing of “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” ends tonight, Disney will formally seal the deal on its $71 billion acquisition of 21st Century Fox. “This is an extraordinary and historic moment for us — one that will create significant long-term value for our company and our shareholders,” Disney chairman-CEO Bob Iger said in [...]

  • Chinese Tech Firm Huawei Seeks Content

    Beleaguered Chinese Tech Firm Huawei Seeks Content for Expansion Into Southeast Asia

    One of the most surprising first-time attendees at FilMart is Chinese tech giant Huawei, which has come to Hong Kong to acquire the video content it needs to support its strategy of expansion into Southeast Asia. The company is currently embroiled in a PR nightmare as it defends itself against accusations that its equipment could [...]

  • Viacom HQ LA

    Viacom Goes to War With AT&T Over DirecTV Carriage Deal

    Viacom has declared war against AT&T, blasting the telco giant on several fronts as the companies wrestle over a carriage renewal deal that is vital to Viacom’s long-term financial health. As of today, Viacom has begun running crawls and promo spots on its channels warning viewers that Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, BET, MTV and other channels [...]

  • Peloton Sued for $150 Million for

    Peloton Sued for $150 Million for Using Drake, Lady Gaga Music Without License

    A group of publishers including Downtown Music Publishing, Pulse Music Publishing, ole, peermusic, Ultra Music, Big Deal Music, Reservoir, Round Hill, TRO Essex Music Group and The Royalty Network filed a lawsuit against Peloton for infringement of more than a thousand musical works, according to a statement from the National Music Publishers Association. The plaintiffs are [...]

  • Bruce Ramer Re-Appointed to Corporation for

    Bruce Ramer Re-Appointed to Corporation for Public Broadcasting Board

    Top showbiz attorney Bruce Ramer has been reappointed to the board of the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the nonprofit org that administers federal funding for public broadcasting. Ramer, a partner at Gang, Tyre, Ramer, Brown & Passman, was elected chair of the CPB board in October. He previously served as board chair from 2010-2012. His [...]

  • Gary Knell

    Listen: National Geographic Chief Gary Knell on Disney Future, Fox's Legacy

    The marriage of National Geographic Partners and Disney, which becomes official today, is the proverbial brand match made in heaven. Disney is taking over the stewardship of Nat Geo Partners — a joint venture with the National Geographic Society — as part of its acquisition of 21st Century Fox. The transition comes at a time [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content