Thursday 19 July 2018

Charlottesville Violence: Key moments from Donald Trump's extraordinary press conference

  • US President said that both sides are to blame for the Charlottesville violence
  • He controversially claimed that the 'alt-left' came 'charging swinging, they had clubs in their hands'
  • Trump also refused to back his controversial and apparently under pressure chief strategist, Steve Bannon
  • He said George Washington was a 'slave owner'
  • He confirmed he will visit Charlottesville as he owns property there
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
U.S. President Donald Trump delivers a statement on the deadly protests in Charlottesville, at the White House in Washington, U.S. August 14, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts
Heather Heyer died after a car rammed into a group of counter-protesters at a white nationalist march in Charlottesville, Virginia. Pic: GoFundMe
James Alex Fields Jr., 20, is seen in a mugshot released by Charlottesville, Virginia police department Photo: Charlottesville Police Department/Handout via REUTERS
An injured woman is helped after a car ran into protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Photo: AP
Independent.ie Newsdesk

Independent.ie Newsdesk

US President Donald Trump has made a series of bizarre comments at one of his most controversial press conferences to date.

Members of the press gathered to listen to Trump talk about his plans to overhaul the country’s infrastructure, but Charlottesville soon became the topic of conversation.

Hundreds of white nationalists converged in Virginia over the weekend to protest plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the US civil war.

They were met by crowds of anti-racism demonstrators as tensions escalated to violent clashes. A suspected Nazi sympathiser, James Fields, plowed his car into a group of the counter-protesters, killing a young woman and injuring 19 other people.

Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the
Rescue workers assist people who were injured when a car drove through a group of counter protestors at the "Unite the Right" rally Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S., August 12, 2017. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

Here are the key moments from Trump's extraordinary press conference:

On his delayed response condemning the violence at Charlottesville, which he commented on 48 hours after the violence

"I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure unlike most politicians that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement ... It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts and it’s a very, very important process to me ... You don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. Before I make a statement, I need the facts ... so making the statement when I made the statement, it was excellent.

"In fact the young woman who I hear was a fantastic young woman ... her mother wrote me and said, through I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things and I very much appreciated that ... Her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly if the press were not fake and were honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. I’d do it the same way and you know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct."

On who was to blame for for the violence at the protest

"When you say the ‘alt-right’, define alt-right to me. You define it. What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, excuse me, what about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at as you say the ‘alt-right’, do they have any semblance of guilt? They do. What about the fact that they came charging swinging, they had clubs in their hands. Do they have any problem? I think that they do.

"As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute, I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day. I will tell you something. I watch the shots very closely. You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, 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."

An injured woman is helped after a car ran into protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Photo: AP
An injured woman is helped after a car ran into protesters after a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville. Photo: AP

On the Charlottesville murder suspect James Fields

"The driver of the car is a disgrace to himself his family and this country. And ... you can call it terrorism, you can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict, that’s what I would call it ... The driver of the car is a murderer, and what he did is a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing. "

On David Duke, Former Ku Klux Klan leader, attending the protest

"I didn’t know David Duke was there, I wanted to see the facts ... everybody said ‘His statement was beautiful,’ he could’ve made it sooner ... there’s still things that people don’t know."

The president's initial remarks about the protest were welcomed by David Duke, who tweeted: "Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists."

On Steve Bannon

Trump also refused to back his controversial and apparently under pressure chief strategist, Steve Bannon.

"We'll see what happens with Mr Bannon," he said, adding: "I like Mr Bannon. He's a friend of mine... He is a good man. He is not a racist."

Mr Bannon is seen as the figurehead of the "alt-right", a loosely defined group with far-right beliefs.

On George Washington

"George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slave owner? So will George Washington now lose his statues? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, you like him? ... Because he was a major slave owner ... you’re changing history."

On his property at Charlottesville

As Mr Trump ended his extraordinary press address last night, a question was shouted at him as to whether he planned to visit Charlottesville. He responded by saying that he owned property there - one of the largest wineries in the United States.

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