Trump Doubles Down on Charlottesville Statement: What About 'Alt-left' Guilt?

Trump also asked if statues of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson should be taken down as they too were slave owners

President Donald Trump listens to a question while meeting the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.
Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

U.S. President Donald Trump seemingly drew a moral equivalance between nationalist right-wing protestors in Charlotesville and those that were attacked by them over the weekend.

Speaking at the Trump Tower in New York on Tuesday, the president was asked for his opinion after Senator John McCain had condemned the so-called "alt-right" for its role in the violent rally, to which he responded: "What about alt-left? Do they have any semblance of guilt?"

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One counter-protester was killed and dozens injured in a day of violence when hundreds of right-wing protestors took to the streets against the removal of the statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the U.S. Civil War.

"Not all protestors were neo-Nazis," the president said. "Some were there to protest the taking down of a Confederate statue."

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He then went on to ask whether the statue of founding father George Washington and Thomas Jefferson should also be taken down in light of the fact that they too were "huge" slave owners.

According to Trump, protesters on the political left violently attacked the white nationalists and "both sides" played a role in the violence. 

Trump had been sharply criticized for his initial comments blaming "many sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, but on Monday had explicitly condemned right-wing racist elements. 

"They came at each other with clubs ... it was a horrible thing to watch,"

Trump told reporters in response to questions in the lobby of Trump Tower, before adding that left-wing protesters "came violently attacking the other group." 

Criticism of Trump from within his own party has not abated.

U.S. Representative Charlie Dent said Trump's comments on Monday, when he denounced neo-Nazis, the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists by name, were better than his "failed response" over the weekend. But it still looked "a little bit forced and half-hearted," Dent told MSNBC.