Donald Trump’s press conference in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York has been branded his most jaw-dropping yet. The US President managed to plug his winery while claiming blame should be shared by both sides for the violence in Charlottesville.
Mr Trump’s extraordinary conference, in which he defended the far-right extremists who descended on the Virginia city over the weekend, has sparked widespread condemnation from across the political spectrum.
A former speechwriter to President Barack Obama is one of those who has taken aim at the president. Cody Keenan, who worked for Obama from 2007 and 2017, joked a bad presidential press conference used to simply mean wearing a tan suit.
This is a reference to a White House press briefing delivered by Obama in 2014 in which he was was widely mocked for wearing a tan-coloured suit. Some joked it was not an appropriate colour to wear for delivering a statement on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria and Russia’s intervention in Ukraine whereas others joked it looked like Obama was on holiday.
Mr Keenan said: "Simpler times, when this was classified as a press conference disaster".
President Trump received a barrage of questions from reporters about why he did not immediately condemn the actions of the neo-Nazis, skinheads, and members of the Ku Klux Klan who assembled in Charlottesville for a white nationalist rally on Saturday and instead insisted the blame was on “many sides”.
Although he read another statement approximately 48 hours after the violence in which he specifically said "racism is evil" and condemned “white Supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups” he performed a drastic U-turn at yesterday’s conference and doubled down on his initial comments.
Addressing reporters, he said: “I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane. You had a group on one side and group on the other and they came at each other with clubs – there is another side, you can call them the left, that came violently attacking the other group. You had people that were very fine people on both sides.
“Not all those people were neo-Nazis, not all those people were white supremacists. Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E Lee. So this week, it is Robert E Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
While repeatedly calling the gathered press "fake media”, he also asked reporters: “What about the alt-left that came charging at the - as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do. As far as I am concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.”
Angry clashes between far-right extremists and anti-fascists culminated in Heather Heyer being killed after a car ploughed into a crowd of anti-fascist protesters. Two policemen were also killed in a helicopter crash while trying to reinstate peace to the generally quiet university town.
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