Donald Trump’s Tuesday press conference about his infrastructure plans quickly deteriorated into a defense of his initial response to the violent Charlottesville, Virginia, march, as well as of some of the marchers.
When Trump first started taking questions at Trump Tower this afternoon, he argued that his Saturday statement was vague in assigning blame because, “Unlike you, and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.” Once he knew the facts, he said, of course he was willing to condemn the Ku Klux Klan and white supremacists.
When reporters began to ask about whether the alt-right was behind the Charlottesville bloodshed, though, Trump unleashed a torrent of both-sides whataboutism and crankery.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the—as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” he asked.
And then the president of the United States began to defend some of the marchers, which gave way to a slippery slope argument about what happens if you begin removing statues of Robert E. Lee:
But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee. You look at some of the groups and you see—you know it if you are honest reporters, which in many cases you are not—but many of the people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee. This week it’s Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. Is it George Washington next week, and Jefferson the week after?
Trump added that there were “some very fine people on both sides” at the protest, and that there was a peaceful march the night before.
Oh yeah, those good ol’ marchers on Friday night.
So it seems like our president is back in Saturday statement mode. It’s almost like he never really left it, despite his clean-up on Monday.
At least some people are happy.
Here’s the full press conference: