Speaking to a room of stunned reporters on Tuesday, President Trump doubled down on his belief that the violence in Charlottesville this weekend was as much the responsibility of the “alt left” as neo-Nazis. Point for point, Trump repeated popular alt-right and far right talking points on the events, equating anti-fascist counter-protestors with the neo-Nazis and neo-Confederates there to protest the removal of a Robert E Lee statue.
19 people were injured and one woman was killed when a man associated with alt-right movements identified by police as James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of protestors. He’s being held without bond on murder charges.
Trump began today’s question and answer session (which was supposed to be about rewriting rules on federal infrastructure projects) by saying he was late to issue a statement condemning Nazis specifically “because [he] didn’t know all of the facts.”
“Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts,” he continued.
But Trump’s versions of “the facts” mirrored the revisionist narrative advanced by the alt-right to a disturbing degree. Essentially, the president reasserted the “many sides” stance he took in the immediate aftermath of this weekend’s events. When asked if he agreed with Senator John McCain that the alt-right was responsible for the violence, Trump asked, “What about alt-left that came charging?”
“Do they have any semblance of guilt?” said Trump. “They came charging with clubs in their hand. Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Trump then reiterated his claim that there is “blame on many sides,” telling the press, “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was very violent.”
Shifting from simple revisionism to rewriting the events of the weekend wholesale, Trump next claimed that the far right rally characterized by organizer Jason Kessler as a “pro-white demonstration,” included “a lot of people” other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists who were there to “innocently protest.”
“The night before, if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee,” said Trump of the torch rally that had marchers chanting the phrase “blood and soil” popularized by Nazi Germany.
“There are two sides to a story,” said Trump, seemingly acknowledging the value of both the truth and convenient lies.