President Trump reverted to the both-sides-are-to-blame rhetoric that drew harsh criticism following the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Va., last month.
Trump spoke to reporters aboard Air Force One Thursday after a visit to Florida following Hurricane Irma.
He repeated the controversial remarks after a meeting with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott—the Senate’s lone black Republican Wednesday.
“We had a great meeting,” Trump said of his conversation with Scott, who had rebuked Trump’s response to the White Supremacist-led demonstrations last month.
“Tim Scott’s been a friend of mine for a long time. I’ve been a supporter of his—I was one of his earliest supporters. We had a great talk yesterday,” Trump said.
He then, once again, blamed “both sides” — neo-Nazis and white supremacists and those resisting them — for the violence that broke out following a torch-lit march over the removal of a Confederate statue.
“I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also,” Trump said, referring to anti-fascists who clashed with alt-right crowds in Charlottesville.
That divisive language was later missing from a formal statement signed by the President Thursday night, which said, "As Americans, we condemn the recent violence in Charlottesvilel and oppose hatred, bigotry, and racism in all forms."
"No matter the color of our skin or our ethnic heritage, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God."
"We are a Nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. As one people, let us move forward to rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans."
Trump and Scott had met “to discuss the administration’s relationship with the African-American community, the bipartisan issue of improving race relations and creating a more unified country,” press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said.
Scott made clear to the President that he believed Trump's argument was flawed.
"We had three or four centuries of rape, murder and death brought at the hands of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those who believe in a superior race," Scott told reporters Wednesday. "I wanted to make sure we were clear on the delineation between who's on which side in the history of the nation."
But Trump still doubled down on his divisive comments.
"Now because of what's happened since then, with Antifa, you look at, you know, really what's happened since Charlottesville — a lot of people are saying — in fact a lot of people have actually written, ‘gee Trump might have a point.’ I said, you got some very bad people on the other side also, which is true," he told reporters following his meeting with Scott.
This isn’t the first time Trump has defended his position. At a campaign rally in Phoenix last month, he maintained his stance.
“You know, they show up in the helmets and the black masks, and they’ve got clubs and they’ve got everything — Antifa!” he said.
With CHRISTOPHER BRENNAN
Source : http://www.nydailynews.com/news/national/trump-accuses-sides-violence-charlottesville-article-1.3496490