During his press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, President Donald Trump blamed both the alt-right and counter-protesters for the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia on Saturday. When asked about the alt-right, Trump asked the reporter, “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?”
During the press conference, a reporter read from Arizona Senator John McCain’s recent statement defending National Security Adviser General H.R. McMaster, who had been the target of an alt-right campaign against him. When asked to define the “alt-right,” the reporter tried to read from McCain’s statement. The senator called the alt-right, the “same purveyors of hatred and ignorance who precipitated the recent violence in Charlottesville.”
“OK, but what about the alt-left that came charging at them?” Trump asked. “What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? Let me ask you this, what about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
Trump then continued, “As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.”
He said he watched scenes from Charlottesville closely and said both sides were “very bad.”
“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. “And nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say that right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”
Throughout the press conference, Trump repeatedly defended his first statement on the Charlottesville violence when he said there was violence “on many sides” rather than specifically condemning white supremacists right away. Trump didn’t do so until a speech on Monday. Trump told reporters that he wanted to wait until he knew all the facts before condemning one side.
“Before I make a statement, I need the facts, so I don’t want to rush into a statement. So making the statement when I made it was excellent,” he said of his first statement.
But Trump then said there was blame on both sides during today’s press conference.
“I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.”
Trump also said there are “very fine people on both sides.”
On Saturday, the alt-right organized a “Unite The Right” rally in Charlottesville to protest plans to remove the Robert E. Lee statue there. During the rally, a car plowed into a crowd, killing Heather Heyer and wounding at least 19 others.