President Donald Trump on Tuesday clashed with reporters over his response to the Charlottesville, Virginia attack, during an extraordinary press conference at Trump Tower.
In addition to equating Neo-Nazis with what he described as the “alt-left,” Trump once again blamed “both sides” for a violent outbreak that resulted in the death of a 32-year old counter-protester and he demanded to know whether members of the media “like” George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.
Trump insisted he “didn’t wait long” to make a statement condemning white nationalism, arguing he “wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement.”
“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,” Trump said. “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. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement.
“When I make a statement, I like to be correct,” he continued. “I want the facts.”
Trump later refused to call James Fields Jr.—the white nationalist who allegedly drove his car into a group of counter protesters—a terrorist, calling him a murderer and “a disgrace to himself, his family and this country.”
“Is it terrorism?” he asked. “Then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car is a murderer. What he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing”
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?” Trump later asked. “Do they have any assemblage of guilt? What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
“I’m not finished, fake news,” Trump said as members of the media pressed him on his moral equivalency.
“If you were honest reporters, which in many cases, you are not, many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump later said. “This week, it is Robert E. Lee … is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
The president later insisted his ability to bring in good jobs will “have a tremendous positive impact on race relations.”
“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump later restated. “You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it. You don’t have doubt about it either. If you reported it accurately, you would say that.”
“Are we going to take down statues to George Washington?” Trump demanded to know. “How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson?”
“You are changing history and culture,” Trump argued.
Watch the videos below, via CNN:
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Edward-Isaac Dovere of The Atlantic did a quick, back-of-the-envelope economic analysis.