President Donald Trump's reaction to the violence and murder in Charlottesville, Virginia in August 2017 continues to dog him. It was even cited by former Vice President Joe Biden as a catalyst for his return to speak out in condemnation and to return to public life.
In the wake of the Unite the Right rally—supported and attended by White supremacist and White nationalist organizations—President Trump initially placed blame for the outbreak of violence and the murder of Heather Heyer on "both sides." Trump went on to claim there were "very fine people" among the White supremacists and nationalists.
In a scripted statement, that Trump reportedly hated making, he walked back his initial response. But the change of heart about White supremacists only lasted a short time before Trump reversed his scripted remarks in an impromptu meeting with the press at Trump Tower.
Now the President has a new version of what he said and what he meant. In speaking to the press while on his way to the National Rifle Association (NRA) convention, Trump claimed:
"I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E Lee. A great general, whether you like it or not."
Asked if he still thinks there were "very fine people" on both sides of the white supremacist rallies in Charlottes… https://t.co/raLgDOXBZ9— Aaron Rupar (@Aaron Rupar) 1556286536.0
In the almost two years since Charlottesville, this is the first time Trump used this explanation. People are understandably skeptical.
@LacesOut_Ace @atrupar It’s the best he could come up with in such a short period of time. Since 72 years is the… https://t.co/H7v0k96VgJ— AS (@AS) 1556286771.0
@atrupar Constantly rewriting his historical comments, changing the context changing the actual meaning of the original statement.— Blythe Creek (@Blythe Creek) 1556289957.0
Others pointed out the President praising Lee was not a major improvement over his original praise of White supremacists.
@atrupar Always a kind word for slaveholders and despots.— Radioactive Dinosaur (@Radioactive Dinosaur) 1556289393.0
@atrupar https://t.co/e9ieA0U9xd— Craig Smardan (@Craig Smardan) 1556288652.0
@atrupar https://t.co/6tlvADP5uY— The Volatile Mermaid (@The Volatile Mermaid) 1556290371.0
@atrupar Important to add here that Lee, aside from the whole treason thing, wasn’t a good general. See also: Pickett’s Charge— Sean (@Sean) 1556291316.0
@atrupar If this guy is Commander In Chief you guys really are fucked. A hotdog truck could bitchslap you https://t.co/zq50pI1FDX— Jack Z (@Jack Z) 1556293620.0
@atrupar https://t.co/YfzYGE6auc— Pacificsilver (@Pacificsilver) 1556289901.0
@atrupar Trump says he has spoken to ‘many’ generals and Robert E. Lee is their favorite. Not George Patton, not… https://t.co/VGGzz1hNSt— Mo Latno Bill Phelan (@Mo Latno Bill Phelan) 1556288138.0
@atrupar Robert E. Lee wasn't a great general he was a traitor who led a rebellion against the Government of the Un… https://t.co/m9VuImJwVO— April #ImpeachTrump 🌊#TheResistance (@April #ImpeachTrump 🌊#TheResistance) 1556289294.0
While others pointed out the chants by the rally participants were not about Lee.
@atrupar Well considering they joined the bigots chanting about jews I assume they feel strongly about more than ju… https://t.co/sLnirFfYRw— Craig (@Craig) 1556291998.0
@atrupar Yeah! Those protestors felt so "strongly" about Robert E. Lee, that they chanted anti-Semitic and racist… https://t.co/lsfCGW0YT8— Gerald Weaver (@Gerald Weaver) 1556293326.0
@atrupar Those people who "felt very strongly" were also shouting "Jews will not replace us" and murdered Heather H… https://t.co/mQeZjGnhbv— Brian Pinault 🌑🔭 (@Brian Pinault 🌑🔭) 1556290685.0
@atrupar Yeah, those are the ones that had tiki torches, shouting "jews will not replace us" sooooo..... https://t.co/tor74OPQqv— Pashie Bee (@Pashie Bee) 1556286724.0
@atrupar Heather Heyer died, and 28 people were injured in the Charlottesville terror attack, by white supremacists… https://t.co/icwZcKj7ru— Chris Wilken🇨🇦 (@Chris Wilken🇨🇦) 1556289273.0
@atrupar #trump fine people https://t.co/J3jBqurF7m— Maxine Baptiste (@Maxine Baptiste) 1556293629.0
Watch these very fine people express their touching admiration for General Robert E. Lee: https://t.co/UhcqaCdWZC— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@Mrs. Betty Bowers) 1556302434.0
Whether or not President Trump revises his statement on Charlottesville again leading up to the 2020 presidential election remains to be seen.