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Trump again blames ‘both sides’ for Charlottesville violence

IANS | Washington |

US President Donald Trump has again “blamed both sides” for the deadly violence at a white supremacist rally over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, that resulted in the death of a 32-year-old woman.

In a show of defiance, Trump told reporters in Manhattan on Tuesday that there were “two sides to a story” just a day after he had belatedly condemned racist hate groups for the mayhem at the “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia, the Washington Post reported.

“I think there is blame on both sides. You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now.”

He equated the white supremacists on one side with the “alt-left” on the other side and said that “alt-left” groups were “very, very violent” when they sought to confront the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups that had gathered in Charlottesville.

Trump also defended his initial response that “many sides” were to blame for the violence at the rally, saying he needed to “know the facts” before calling out neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan.

His initial response to the violence was quickly panned by Democrats and Republicans alike. He remained silent on Sunday.

After mounting pressure, Trump spoke on Monday and condemned the white supremacists and neo-Nazis at the heart of the violence. On Tuesday, the President defended his 48-hour delay in denouncing white supremacists, arguing that he took his time because he didn’t know the facts.

“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement,” Trump said, calling his initial comment a “fine statement”.

He added: “I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement.”

The President subsequently called the driver of the car that drove through a crowd, killing one woman, a “murderer”.

“The driver of the car is a murderer and what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.”

Trump also made it clear that he believes that many of the participants in the rally were taking part in a lawful demonstration against the Charlottesville city council’s decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a public square, the report said.

“You had people in that group who were protesting the taking down of what to them is a very, very important statue,” the President said, going on to suggest that if historical revisionism could delegitimise Lee’s role and lead to the removal of his statue, then it could also be used to remove statues and monuments to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who were both slave owners.