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 Charlottesville, Trump says, “I was talking about people that went b/c they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E Lee. A great general, whether you like it or not” pic.twitter.com/D7O5vFWy29
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 26, 2019
In the almost two years since Charlottesville, this is the first time Trump used this explanation. People are understandably skeptical.
Um, that’s definitely NOT better.
— DudeAbides (@LacesOut_Ace) April 26, 2019
It’s the best he could come up with in such a short period of time.
Since 72 years is the “youngest”, 20 months is equivalent to milliseconds. I guess. Idk. Kill me. /s
— A S (@JeSuisAS) April 26, 2019
Constantly rewriting his historical comments, changing the context changing the actual meaning of the original statement.
— Blythe Creek (@blythecreek) April 26, 2019
Others pointed out the President praising Lee was not a major improvement over his original praise of White supremacists.
Always a kind word for slaveholders and despots.
— Radioactive Dinosaur (@JeffSaysStuff2) April 26, 2019
— Craig Smardan (@CraigSmardan) April 26, 2019
— The Volatile Mermaid (@OhNoSheTwitnt) April 26, 2019
Important to add here that Lee, aside from the whole treason thing, wasn’t a good general.
See also: Pickett’s Charge
— Sean (@DailyChef7) April 26, 2019
If this guy is Commander In Chief you guys really are fucked. A hotdog truck could bitchslap you pic.twitter.com/zq50pI1FDX
— Jack Z (@stmarnock69) April 26, 2019
— Jeremy Johanson (@pacificsilver) April 26, 2019
He loves Andrew “Trail of Death” Jackson too.
— DaisySirius (@ReaderCatMe) April 26, 2019
Trump says he has spoken to ‘many’ generals and Robert E. Lee is their favorite.
Not George Patton, not MacArthur, not Grant, not even Eisenhower. But Robert E. Lee is their favorite. 🤷♂️
— Mo Latno Bill Phelan (@MoBill) April 26, 2019
He spoke to other racists who see Lee as a great general? Checks out.
— Alvin Williston D (@alvinwd) April 26, 2019
Robert E. Lee wasn’t a great general he was a traitor who led a rebellion against the Government of the United States of America. Through his actions more men were killed than in any other war Period. He should not be celebrated.
— April #ImpeachTrump 🌊#TheResistance (@AngrylilWoman) April 26, 2019
While others pointed out the chants by the rally participants were not about Lee.
Well considering they joined the bigots chanting about jews I assume they feel strongly about more than just Robert E Lee being a great general.
— Craig (@user14201) April 26, 2019
Those protestors felt so “strongly” about Robert E. Lee, that they chanted anti-Semitic and racist hate speech.
You are so wrong @realDonaldTrump because . . .
— Gerald Weaver (@Gerald_Weaver_) April 26, 2019
Those people who “felt very strongly” were also shouting “Jews will not replace us” and murdered Heather Heyer and beat up a bunch of others. But I guess that’s neither here nor there to Trump.
— Brian Pinault 🌗🔭 (@BMPinault) April 26, 2019
Yeah, those are the ones that had tiki torches, shouting “jews will not replace us” sooooo….. pic.twitter.com/tor74OPQqv
— Pashie Bee (@Sister_Bee) April 26, 2019
Heather Heyer died, and 28 people were injured in the Charlottesville terror attack, by white supremacists.
This brutal attack was preceded by sickening demonstrations by white supremacists.
At the time, POTUS said “there were fine people on both sides”.
— Chris Wilken🇨🇦 (@ctwilken) April 26, 2019
— Maxine Baptiste (@brownsugar7878) April 26, 2019
Watch these very fine people express their touching admiration for General Robert E. Lee: pic.twitter.com/UhcqaCdWZC
— Mrs. Betty Bowers (@BettyBowers) April 26, 2019
Whether or not President Trump revises his statement on Charlottesville again leading up to the 2020 presidential election remains to be seen.