Trump’s New Statement On Charlottesville: Too Little, Too Late

After two days, President Trump finally found the words to condemn the parties responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, but his remarks were far too little, far too late.

Trump Confederate Flag

Two days after a Neo-Nazi alt-right “rally” in Charlottesville, Virginia descended into rioting and violence that resulted in the death of one woman and more than a dozen people injured, and initial remarks that were clearly weak and inadequate, President Trump spoke again today regarding what happened over the weekend, but his remarks were far too little, far too late:

President Trump denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name Monday, declaring racist hate groups as “repugnant to all that we hold dear as a nation,” as he sought to tamp down mounting criticism of his response to the killing of a counterprotester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville over the weekend.

“Anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” Trump said in brief remarks to reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, where he returned after a week of vacation in Bedminster, N.J. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.”

Trump added: “Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to all that we hold dear as a nation.”

The statement came two days after the president failed to specifically condemn the white supremacist rally after a woman was killed and as many as 19 wounded by a driver who reportedly espoused racist and pro-Nazi sentiments and had taken part in the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville. Trump, who met Monday with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, reiterated that the Justice Department has launched a civil rights probe into the death of Heather Heyer, 32, who was killed when a car allegedly driven by James Alex Fields, Jr., of Ohio slammed into a group of counterprotesters.

On Saturday, Trump condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” sparking sharp criticism from Democrats, civil rights proponents and some Republicans for failing to single out and condemn the white supremacists who sparked the violence.

(…)

Trump’s remarks, which were not on his daily public schedule, appeared hastily arranged in a bid to move the White House past the backlash to his performance over the weekend. Yet before addressing the Charlottesville situation, Trump opened his remarks touting the economy, noting that stock markets are near record highs and the unemployment rate hovering at a 16-year low.

Trump called Heyer’s death tragic and said it “fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers and our love,” and he also praised the service of two Virginia state troopers, H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates, who died Saturday during a helicopter crash while on duty monitoring the march.

You can read the transcript of Trump’s remarks here, and here’s the video:

While the President’s remarks today are far more specific and appropriate than the “both sides” argument he made during his statement on Saturday, which was apparently ad libbed rather than being part of his prepared remarks according to multiple reports, they came far too late to have much meaning and say far less about him and his Administration than his initial comments. The first point was clearly illustrated earlier in the day when the White House and Trump woke up to the news that Kenneth Frazier, the African-American CEO of pharmaceutical giant Merck had resigned from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, specifically citing Trump’s muted reaction to the events in Charlottesville as the reason he was doing so. Within less than an hour after that resignation was announced, Trump attacked Frazier by name in a tweet that said that he should use his free time to do something about rising drug prices, an argument that CNBC’s Jim Cramer rebutted in a morning appearance on the network. This, of course, isn’t the first time that Trump has personally attacked someone who spoke out against him, and it appears to have been prompted by widespread criticism of the fact that Trump was quicker to attack an African-American businessman than he was to criticize actual Nazis responsible for death and injury on the streets of an American city. I made note of this contrast myself after Trump’s early afternoon remarks concluded:

This latest statement came, as I noted, two days after the incident in question and in the wake of what was clearly becoming a problem for the Trump Administration. In addition to being fodder for morning news shows for the second consecutive day, it was becoming clear that Trump’s milquetoast response to racist violence was having a political impact. This was reflected most dramatically in the job approval numbers from the latest Gallup Tracking Poll, which showed the President’s job approval at 34% and his disapproval at 61%, a high reached by only one other recent President, George W. Bush. The difference between Bush and Trump, though, is that Bush didn’t reach that level until nearly 2800 days into his Administration while Trump has reached it after just over 200 days.  No doubt Trump’s political advisers in the White House realized the impact of the President’s refusal to condemn the source of the violence over the weekend and acted to get him to at least get something out there.

As German Lopez notes a Vox, it’s both sad and pathetic that it took the President two days to say that Nazis and domestic terrorists are bad. This is especially true given that it’s clear from his own Twitter feed that he is not a man who hesitates to attack people when they say or do things that he disapproves of or with which he disagrees. In addition to his attack this morning on Mr. Frazier, Trump has routinely attacked the news media, celebrities, journalists, judges, the news media, and hosts of morning news shows such as MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and  Mika Brezinski and CNN’s Chris Cuomo and Don Lemon, often within minutes after they have said something critical of him. The fact that it took him forty-eight hours to do the same thing with regard to torch-bearing Nazis who clearly support his agenda suggests quite strongly that he is unwilling to do the same with those who support him no matter how vile or criminal their statements or actions may be. Indeed, as many have noted, Trump’s milquetoast comments on Saturday were seen by these people as a tacit endorsement of their cause. Even if that wasn’t Trump’s intention, and it’s hard to believe that the goal of not alienating supporters was on his mind when the Saturday remarks were being crafted, the fact that they could easily be interpreted in this manner. As Kevin Drum puts it, Trump knows what side his bread his buttered on, and he’s not going to risk offending his base:

Today Trump grimly recited a prepared text from a teleprompter, but did so under such obvious pressure that his white nationalist fans understand he’s just playing a role. This is exactly the way he handled the David Duke controversy last year: weasel words for a couple of days, followed by an obviously insincere condemnation under heavy pressure. Now, of course, it’s time to move forward, let the healing begin, and stop arguing about who killed whom. While we’re at it, though, you may be sure that Trump is making absolutely sure that his white supporters understand that nothing has really changed:

We live in a world where the United States of America finds it easier to attack D-List Celebrities than he does to attack actual Nazis who have murdred an American citizen. If it weren’t actually happening, I’d think it w as all some kind of bizarre dream.

Photo via Reuters

 

 

FILED UNDER: Donald Trump, Politicians, US Politics
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010. Before joining OTB, he wrote at Below The BeltwayThe Liberty Papers, and United Liberty Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    At the same time saying he is seriously considering a pardon for Arpaio…for racial profiling.
    Comb-over Donnie is a weak, pathetic, little man-child.

  2. KM says:

    Trump honestly doesn’t get why his first little meh-Tweet wasn’t sufficient. After all, what does this have to do with him? He’s got more important things to rail about – like that Merck guy! How dare he just leave and say it was because Trump’s inadequate! F that guy, doesn’t he know Trump issued his usual Sad! What, do they expect him to call the victim’s family personally or something? Ain’t nobody got time for that – he needs to get back to dismantling O-care He’s wasting valuable time on this nonsense when he should be MAGA.***

    *** all derived from actual posts seen scattered across the web. BRB – need a shower now….

  3. Mark Ivey says:

    “Trump grimly recited a prepared text from a teleprompter, but did so under such obvious pressure that his white nationalist fans understand he’s just playing a role”

    Bigly…

  4. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    James Fields, the cowardly murderer from C’ville, not only flunked out of basic training, but he also abused his disabled mother; smacking her in the head, locking her in the bathroom, and threatening her with a kitchen knife.
    (I’d love to know how this 20 year old loser was driving a…minimum…$26,000 car?)
    And Alex Jones, noted conspiracy theorist and right wing intellectual leader, says that the C’ville protest was staged and it was Jews posing as Nazi’s.
    This is today’s Republican Party.

  5. pylon says:

    The racist alt-right is hanging its hat on the delay and the fact he used the words “including” and “other hate groups”. They will say that they are not racist so Trump wasn’t talking about them.

  6. CSK says:

    Doug, your Tweet should get a Pulitzer. Bravo. Perfect. I hope it gets retweeted all ovr the planet.

  7. Facebones says:

    According to Trump’s tweets, Rosie O’Donnell is a bigger problem than actual Nazis who kill people.

  8. teve tory says:

    breaking news:

    A 23-year-old man who was “out for blood” when attempted to detonate what he believed was an explosives-laden van outside an Oklahoma bank in a plot similar to the deadly 1995 bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building is expected to be formally charged Monday, authorities said.

    we need a total and complete shutdown of young white men entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

  9. teve tory says:

    Didn’t even take Trump an hour to tweet-attack the black guy. That’s like a record.

  10. teve tory says:

    @teve tory: That missing-an-entire-word snippet was taken from ABCNews.com. That error is Errwhere online.

  11. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    @teve tory:
    I’ve been reading about this largely ignored story.
    The guy is allegedly a follower of the “3%ers”. This is anti-government group that gets their name from the idea that only 3% of the country actually fought in the Revolutionary War. This is demonstrably false; they are off by a factor of 5. I guess the “15%ers” doesn’t sound as good.
    Violence based upon a factual error. You can’t make up how stupid these people are. And yet they are allowed to possess weapons made to kill people.

  12. Mikey says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl:

    (I’d love to know how this 20 year old loser was driving a…minimum…$26,000 car?)

    He bought it used. The previous owner was briefly claimed by white nationalist morons to have actually been driving it, even though he was hundreds of miles from Charlottesville at the time of Fields’ murderous attack.

  13. teve tory says:
  14. michael reynolds says:

    We live in a world where the United States of America finds it easier to attack D-List Celebrities than he does to attack actual Nazis who have murdered an American citizen. If it weren’t actually happening, I’d think it w as all some kind of bizarre dream.

    Well-said, Doug.

    When this is all over we’re all going to have to figure out how to put this country back together again.

    I think what the country will be looking for post-Trump is a president of unquestioned integrity. Unfortunately, not that many names come immediately to mind.

  15. Mikey says:

    @michael reynolds: Comey 2020!

  16. Mikey says:

    @teve tory: That was epic. I laughed…and cried…

  17. CSK says:

    Richard Spencer of “Heil Trump” fame is holding a “White Lives Matter” event at Texas A&M this September 11.

    Yes. September 11.

  18. An Interested Party says:

    Shame Hillary Clinton Didn’t Try To Warn Us About Trump’s Basket Of Deplorable Nazi Fuck Trash

    Here’s Exhibit A of how someone was shamed into apologizing for telling the truth…meanwhile we have a president who lies in the same way that most people breathe…so to everyone in Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan who stayed home on election day or voted for some third party loon or who voted for the disgrace in the White House, enjoy the freak show that is the current executive branch of the federal government…hopefully it won’t hurt you and yours too much…

  19. An Interested Party says:

    Could someone release my comment from moderation? Thanks…

  20. grumpy realist says:

    Interesting article on how what we’re seeing here is a whole bunch of idiots who are thinking they can take their trolling behavior from 4chan out into the real world and are now whining about the consequences.

    You don’t get to march with a swastika and then get to claim “it was just a joke.”

  21. Kylopod says:

    @grumpy realist: From the article:

    4chan is where the concept of the “ironic” Nazi and white nationalist was born — the racist, homophobic, anti-Semitic users who say the awful things they say not necessarily because they believe them, but because it makes other people angry or scared. That’s textbook trolling: saying stuff that is first and foremost intended to get a rise out of other people.

    There are precursors to this phenomenon, before there even was an Internet. In the 1970s, Malcolm McLaren (who was Jewish) was handing out swastikas to the Sex Pistols, ostensibly for the shock value. But there were actual neo-Nazis and white nationalists within the punk movement; in fact the racist skinheads originated as a punk subculture. The other day Lit3Bolt here referenced the Dead Kennedys song “Nazi Punks F*** Off,” which was a reaction to having neo-Nazis showing up at their performances.

    People who embrace the words and imagery of Nazis and racists “just” for the shock value are almost invariably going to let the real thing in before long.

  22. Sleeping Dog says:

    And his instinct said: Do not attack the white supremacists.

    John Podhoretz at Commentary.

  23. Lynn says:

    @CSK: “Richard Spencer of “Heil Trump” fame is holding a “White Lives Matter” event at Texas A&M this September 11.

    It has, apparently, been cancelled by the school.

  24. CSK says:

    @Lynn:

    I just saw that. Apparently the organizer is going to sue the state of Texas.

  25. Tyrell says:

    @Mikey: Dwayne Johnson 2020

  26. Kylopod says:

    @Tyrell: You mean this? I’ll drink to that!

  27. Neil Hudelson says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Yates, Duckworth, Mayor Landrieu, Biden all spring immediately to mind. None of them are perfect candidates, but there are certainly people of great integrity out there. I hope (but am not confident) that Democrats can deeply examine their leadership and start to groom these people.

  28. Mister Bluster says:

    @teve tory:..we need a total and complete shutdown of young white men entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.

    Should this ban include all the new arrivals whose port of entry is their mother’s vagina?

  29. Matt says:

    @CSK: Not anymore. It was canceled by the college last I knew.

  30. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @michael reynolds: The one that leaps to my mind is Constitutionally barred from running for a 3rd term.

  31. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Kylopod:

    That’s textbook trolling: saying stuff that is first and foremost intended to get a rise out of other people.

    Rush redundant tree branch has made a rather lucrative career out of that.

    @Mister Bluster: Especially them guys. Bigly dangerous.

  32. Daryl's other brother Darryl says:

    I just keep thinking about how this should have played out under a real leader: he or she would visit C-ville, and they would visit and comfort the mother of this woman that was killed. (I do not think Donnie has mentioned her name.) A real leader would make common cause with the mother, and talk to the nation about uniting to fight hate…of all kinds.
    Instead of taking this incredibly simple course of action, the Leader of today’s Republican Party chose, instead, to make common cause with Nazi’s.
    Can this really go on for 3-1/2 more years?

  33. SenyorDave says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: I just keep thinking about how this should have played out under a real leader:

    C’mon this is what a real leader would do in the face of Charlottesville:

    Trump retweets Fox News story on potential Arpaio pardon

    Obviously its poor Sheriff Joe who was the victim, and people just like him. Maybe he’ll pardon James Fields (the guy who drove into the crowd), he must be a victim too.

  34. James Pearce says:

    We live in a world where the United States of America finds it easier to attack D-List Celebrities than he does to attack actual Nazis

    Trump himself is a D-list celebrity, and he’s got an army of cosplaying Nazis who desperately want their own HateCon. “I need more milk!”

    We are truly living in historic times.

  35. pylon says:

    Trump managed to still include the code word “thugs” in his little statement. And “other groups” which I assume includes BLM, women’s marches, gay pride marches, etc. Then he followed up with complaints about the press, musings about pardoning Sheriff Joe and a retweet of the pizzagate conspiracy theorist.

  36. CSK says:

    Given that it’s Trump, I won’t say that this is unbelievable, but…

    This morning he re-Tweeted a cartoon image of the Trump Train hitting a person with the CNN logo over the face.

    A. Train. Hitting. A. Human. Figure.

    The caption under it was “Fake news can’t stop the Trump Train.”

    Somebody–Kelly, Ivanka, who knows–made him take it down, but…Sweet Jesus.

  37. michael reynolds says:
  38. grumpy realist says:
  39. gVOR08 says:

    @grumpy realist: Besides making these people look incredibly stupid, that Balloon Juice post makes you wonder about the inadequate police response in Charlottsville.

  40. grumpy realist says:

    Article from RawStory about a neo-Nazi.

    When asked if he identified with any aspects of white supremacy, the man admitted he thought it was “kind of a fun idea,” and that he liked chanting “white power!”

    The man later admitted that he simply loved “being offensive” and didn’t want to get beat up for espousing white supremacist ideas.

    (Facepalm)

    I suspect that that’s what the make-up of these idiots rolls as: 99% stupid idiots and 1% people who actually believe this stuff.

  41. Monala says:

    @grumpy realist: One of the BJ commenters responded to this quote:

    “I have never felt like the government or police were against me,” said white nationalist leader Richard Spencer at a small news conference inside his home here on Monday afternoon. “There has never been a situation in my life when I’ve felt this way.”

    The commenter said,

    And yet the entire justification for their ideology is based on the “fact” that poor unfortunate white people can’t catch a break because everybody hates them, especially the patriotic type of whites who stick up for their kind.

    Mother Jones published a story written by a reporter who went undercover with a border militia. One of the things that struck me was how outraged those guys were whenever the police stopped them or questioned them about anything. Their attitude was one of complete entitlement, assuming that as white “patriots,” the police should never question them about anything.

  42. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @Daryl’s other brother Darryl: Alex Jones needs to remember that, not only is karma a b****, blowback doesn’t care what it scorches. Perhaps not physically, the guy is living on borrowed time.

  43. SC_Birdflyte says:

    @CSK: Apparently not. Both Texas A&M and my alma mater, the University of Florida have declared him persona non grata.