Trump On Charlottesville: 'What About The Alt-Left?'
He reiterated his statement that more than one group perpetrated violence in Charlottesville.
President Donald Trump seemingly doubled down on his initial statement about a Charlottesville, Virginia, "alt-right" rally, blaming counterprotesters as well as white nationalists for the violence over the weekend.
"I watched those [videos] very closely — much more closely than you people watched it," Trump told reporters. "And you have — you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now. You had a group — you had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent."
The press conference was supposed to be about Trump's infrastructure initiative.
But almost as soon as he opened the floor to questions, reporters moved the conversation to Trump's interpretation of what happened in Virginia.
"What about the alt-left that came charging at the — as you say, the 'alt-right'? Do they have any semblance of guilt?" Trump asked. "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 also seemed to defend the official motivation behind the protests: to challenge the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.
"Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch," Trump said of the ralliers. "Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee."
He added: "This week it's Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really have to ask yourself, 'Where does it stop?'"
Trump went on to say removing Confederate monuments should be left up to local communities or the federal government, depending on where those monuments are located.
On race relations, Trump said "they've been frayed for a long, long time," but that economic growth will make things better.
Here's the full press conference:
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