At a press conference in New York City to nominally promote his infrastructure bill, the president re-iterated his belief that both white supremacists and their opponents were at fault for the racial violence in Virginia this weekend. “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said. In that one sentence, Trump returned to his original position that “many sides” bore responsibility, which comes after a transparently insincere attempt on Monday to blame neo-Nazis and white supremacists specifically.
But there’s more! Trump also gave a rousing endorsement of the white supremacists’ cause, saying that many “good people” had come to protest the planned removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. He said that tearing down the statue of Lee was comparable to tearing down statues of George Washington or Thomas Jefferson.
“Not all of those people were neo-Nazis,” Trump asserted. “Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. ... You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people—on both sides.”
As a factual matter, Trump’s statement is dubious: The event was openly organized by white supremacists, so it is unlikely that many “fine people” were at the rally. His latest remarks have only validated the suspicion that Trump sees white supremacists as a crucial part of his political alliance and that he is loath to alienate them. And the country’s racists like what they’re hearing: