Trump's chief of staff grimaces as he listens to President attack 'alt-left' protesters in Charlottesville

The President defends his decision to wait two days to respond to the violence and says there are some 'very fine people' among the white supremacists who took to the streets

Wednesday 16 August 2017 16:38 BST
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly watches on nervously at Trump's Charlottesville press briefing

White House chief of staff John Kelly’s reaction to Donald Trump’s press briefing on the violence in Charlottesville has been widely shared after video footage captured him grimacing as the President answered questions from journalists.

In the impromptu press conference Mr Trump defended his decision to wait two days to respond to the violence, during which three people died, and said there were some “very fine people” among the white supremacists who took to the streets.

Mr Trump also compared Confederate generals to the founding fathers of the United States, and said that all sides, including the “alt-left”, were culpable in the violence that left three people dead.

Footage, which has been shared on Twitter more than 9,000 times, shows Mr Kelly, the newly appointed chief of staff, with his shoulders hunched, arms crossed and staring at the ground, as Mr Trump went on the offensive against the press corp.

Mr Kelly is said to have been “frustrated” with the President’s handling of questions as Mr Trump reportedly "went rogue", only weeks after he was tasked with restoring order to the White House, according to CNN.

Clashes broke out after white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis descended on Charlottesville to protest against the removal of a statue of a Confederate general.

An alleged white supremacist drove a car into a large crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring dozens more.

Two police officers helping the effort to quell the unrest also died when their helicopter crashed.

Mr Trump's initial response to the violence was widely criticised when he stopped short of singling out the far right for condemnation.

Two days later, he delivered scripted remarks in which he said the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists were "repugnant" only to change tack again the following day and attribute blame to both sides.

"You had a group on one side that was bad [and] you had a group on the other side that was also very violent... There are two sides to a story,” Mr Trump said.

“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly,” he added.

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