Trump defends his stand on Virginia violence

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Washington, Aug 16 (PTI): US President Donald Trump, who is facing flak for holding ‘both sides’ responsible for an attack on counter protesters during a white supremacist rally in Virginia, has defended his stance by saying there are always “two sides to a story”.

The US President reverted yesterday to his initial position that both left and right-wing extremists turned violent during a weekend rally by white nationalists in Virginia.   He has blamed both sides including the “alt-left” for the deadly violence.                Trump had come under fire from both Republicans and Democrats for his muted response to the violence unleashed by white supremacists during the rally in which a woman was killed and 19 others were injured when a car ploughed into a crowd of counter-protesters. “I think there’s blame on both sides. If you look at both sides — I think there’s blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either. And if you reported it accurately, you would say,” Trump told reporters in New York.

When a reporter challenged his observation by saying that this was started first by neo-Nazis groups, Trump said that both sides are to be blamed. He said there were very bad people on both sides. “Excuse me, excuse me. They didn’t put themselves — and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides. You had people in that group,” he said.

“So I only tell you this:  There are two sides to a story. I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country — a horrible moment. But there are two sides to the country,” Trump said. The right-wing march had been organised to protest against the proposed removal of a statue of General Robert E Lee, who commanded the pro-slavery Confederate forces during the American Civil War. Violence broke out after they were confronted by anti-racism groups and later a car ploughed into one group of anti-racism protesters. Trump said both sides charged each other.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at — excuse me, 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 that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs?  Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day,” said the US President. Trump’s press conference in New York also drew criticism from political opponents. “The President’s continued talk of blame ‘on many sides’ ignores the abhorrent evil of white supremacism, and continues a disturbing pattern of complacency around acts of hate from this President, his Administration and his campaign for the presidency,” said Nancy Pelosi, former Speaker of the US House of Representatives. Senator Charles Schumer, Senate Minority Leader, said Trump’s remarks showed he is not one of the presidents who wanted to unite the country.

House Democratic Caucus Chairman Joe Crowley said Trump has “disgraced the office of the presidency” and “clearly lacks a moral compass”. Senator Mark Warner said he was shocked and disappointed. “I tried to give the president the benefit of the doubt on Monday. I was disappointed it took him more than 2 days to call out the vile actions of people who were racist, white supremacists, neo-Nazis, KKK members that descended on Charlottesville,” he told CNN. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe contested Trump’s statement. “Neo-Nazis, Klansmen and white supremacists came to Charlottesville heavily armed, spewing hatred and looking for a fight. One of them murdered a young woman in an act of domestic terrorism, and two of our finest officers were killed in a tragic accident while serving to protect this community. This was not ‘both sides’,” he said.

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