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Donald Trump Defends Charlottesville Rally Attendees In His Most Shocking Press Conference

One of Washington's most senior Republicans calls him out for it.

15/08/2017 22:28 | Updated 16 August 2017

Six months later, we have a new champion.

After a tough few days of a presidency that hasn’t had many good ones, Trump held a press conference in New York on Tuesday where he equivocated when journalists questioned how sincerely he condemned white supremacists. He even appeared to defend them at times.

Kevin Lamarque / Reuters
Donald Trump talks to reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower

He was under fire for taking two days to condemn Neo Nazis and white supremacists behind violence at the deadly rally in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday, where Far Right supporters fought with anti-fascist protestors.

A woman was killed and 19 people injured when a car was driven in to a group of the counter-demonstrators.

Many would have argued now was the time for contrition from a president with a track record of failing to distance himself from extremists.

But, standing at the podium at Trump Tower, Trump decided to double down. 

He was meant to only give a statement about his plans for infrastructure but, over 20 minutes, he:

  • Proudly told reporters he took so long to say Neo Nazis are bad because he wanted to “make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct”

  • Said the CEOs who quit a White House panel in protest at his Charlottesville response did so because they “are not taking their jobs seriously”

  • Suggested an “alt left” was as guilty of violence in Charlottesville as the Neo Nazis they were protesting, saying they had “clubs in their hands” and “came charging” in

  • Said both sides in Charlottesville - including remember, the one with Neo Nazis - included “very fine people”

  • Suggested it was wrong to remove statues of Confederates who fought to defend slavery - the issue the Far Right was ostensibly rallying about - because revered former presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson also owned slaves

  • Claiming race relations had improved or stayed the same in his time in office after being “frayed for a long time and you can ask Barack Obama about that”

  • Beamed while telling the press he owned a home in Charlottesville that was “one of the largest wineries in the United States”

  • Thanked the mother of the woman killed at Charlottesville for saying the “nicest things” about him after he eventually condemned white supremacists. He added: “If the press were not fake and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice”

Trump initially responded to events on Saturday by condemning violence “on both sides”. On Monday, he finally specifically condemned Nazis, the KKK and white supremacists, only to later tweet his anger that this was not better received.

“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement,” Trump said at the Tuesday press conference of his comments on Charlottesville.

“The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts.

“It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. It is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”

JIM WATSON via Getty Images
Trump said he was slow to condemn Neo Nazis because he wanted 'to make sure what I said was correct'

He said the Far Right rally “had a group on one side who was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent”.

He continued: “Nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now... You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.”

All through the performance, Trump was bombarded as reporters shouted questions, often trying to follow up on the extraordinary things he was saying.

At one point, he cut out a reporter trying to interrupt by saying: “I’m not finished yet, fake news.”

It was a performance that showed “honesty and courage”, according to ex-KKK leader David Duke.

Even the more placid part of the press conference was bizarre. Before he took any questions, he unveiled a long flow chart to “both real and fake media” to illustrate the process of getting permits to build infrastructure.

JIM WATSON via Getty Images
Trump unveils a flow chart, before the carnage of the questions began

This was meant to be the focus of the press conference, before he flew into what one journalist called “white rage”.

Trump’s equivication on Neo Nazis that left many with their jaws on the floor.

Paul Ryan, House of Representatives speaker and the third most senior Republican in Washington, tweeted:

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