President Trump wants to be entirely clear: He blames both sides for the violence in Charlottesville that killed one person and injured dozens.
Despite the prepared statement he read Monday, Trump doesn’t particularly feel that white nationalists were to blame for the violence. He thinks the “alt-left” was charging at marchers with clubs. He thinks a torchlit march in which people did Nazi salutes, chanted, “Sieg heil!” and assaulted counterprotesters was a good example of people “very quietly protesting.” And he thinks the violence distracted from the rally’s laudable aim, to defend a statue of Robert E. Lee.
What Trump said Tuesday, in an unscripted press conference, made explicit all the darkest undertones of his gallingly weak statement from Saturday. In the face of a “Nazified” rally that left an American citizen dead, he muddied the waters (all but lying about what happened over the weekend) and softened his judgment of the march itself.
After Saturday’s statement, white nationalists celebrated Trump’s support for them, while Americans of color worried that they had been abandoned. Tuesday’s remarks are nearly certain to convince both sides they were right.
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