Donald Trump’s Charlottesville press conference: Read the whole transcript

The press conference drew immediate criticism from a range of individuals, including from Republicans

Clark Mindock
New York
Tuesday 15 August 2017 22:56 BST
The President conflated George Washington with Robert E Lee
The President conflated George Washington with Robert E Lee (AP)

Donald Trump has sparked fresh controversy during an impromptu press conference in Trump Tower, when he defended his decision to wait two days to respond to the violence that erupted over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.

During the exchange with the press corps, the President compared Confederate generals to the founding fathers of the United States, and said that all sides were culpable in the conflict that erupted over the weekend.

Critics immediately pounced on his answers, and accused the President of sympathising with alt-right, white supremacists who may have voted for him.

Read his full remarks below, per transcripts provided by the White House press pool.

Q: Why do you think these CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?

“Because they're not taking their jobs seriously as it pertains to this country.”

“If you look at some of those people that you’re talking about, they’re outside of the country, they’re having a lot of their product being made outside.”

“I will tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they're leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside and I’ve been lecturing them … you have to bring this work back to this country.”

Q: Why did you wait so long to condemn white nationalists?

“I didn’t wait long. I want to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct and not make a quick statement. The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement. But you don’t make statements until you know the facts. 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 and it’s an important statement.”

POTUS then re-read the statement he made Saturday, omitting the “many sides” portion.”

When NBC’s Hallie Jackson jumped in to follow up, POTUS warned her to “take it nice and easy.”

“This is an event that just happened … I don’t want to rush into a statement, so making the statement when I made it was excellent.”

POTUS called the victim of the Charlottesville car attack “an incredible young woman” and said her mother “thanked me.”

“Unlike you and unlike the media, before I make the statement, I like to know the facts.”

Q: Why do Nazis support you?

“They don't.”

Q: As the CEO of Wal-Mart said, did you miss an opportunity to bring the country together?

“Not at all.”

POTUS went on to cite positive economic indicators as evidence he is uniting the country.

Q: David Duke was there?

“I didn’t know David Duke was there.”

He said the second statement was made after he has “great knowledge” of the situation.

Q: Was this terrorism?

“I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and his country. And that is — you can call this terrorism, you can call it murder, you can call it whatever you want.”

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

Q: Do you have confidence in Steve Bannon?

“I like Mr. Bannon, he's a friend of mine. But Mr. Bannon came on very late.”

“I like him. He is a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He’s a good person. He actually gets a lot of unfair press. But we will see what happens with Mr. Bannon. But he is a good person and I think the press treats him very unfairly.”

Q: Asked about the alt-right.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt? what about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands? As far as I'm concerned that was a horrible, horrible day.”

When CNN’s Jim Acosta tried to interject, POTUS responded, “I’m not finished, fake news.” He then continued.

Q: Is the alt-left as bad as white supremacists?

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.”

Q: Would you call the alt-left as bad as neo-Nazis?

“I condemn neo-Nazis … Not all of those people are neo Nazis, not all of those people are white supremacists, by any stretch.”

“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. have to ask yourself, where does it stop.”

Q: Are race relations better or worse under your presidency?

“They've been frayed for a long time...” he said of race relations in America. He said creating jobs is the answer. “I believe that's going to have a tremendous positive impact on race relations.”

“We're spending a lot of money on the inner cities.”

“I think there's blame on both sides. I have no doubt about it, you don't have any doubt about it. If you reported it accurately, you would see.”

Q: Asked about Confederate monuments.

“George Washington was a slave owner. Are we gonna take down statues of George Washington? ... you're changing history, you're changing had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

“They had a permit — the other group didn't have a permit.”

“It was a horrible moment for our country, but there are two sides to the story.”

Q: Asked about Sen. John McCain’s criticism.

“You'll have to ask John McCain why he did that.“

Q: Have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car attack?

“No. I will be reaching out.”

“I was very — I thought the statement put out, the mother's statement I thought was a beautiful statement … I really appreciated it.”

Q: Will you visit Charlottesville?

”I own a house in Charlottesville. Does anyone know I own a house in Charlottesville? Oh boy. It is the winery....I know a lot about Charlottesville....great place, i own actually one of the largest wineries in the United States in Charlottesville.“

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