Trump says ‘both sides’ are to blame for Charlottesville violence
Three Miami Republican lawmakers wasted no time Tuesday to again denounce President Donald Trump after he again insisted that “both sides” were to blame for deadly violence over the weekend during a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.
Sen. Marco Rubio and Reps. Carlos Curbelo and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen took to Twitter after Trump, in an aggressively defiant news conference, maintained that counter-protesters — whom the president called the “alt-left” — were also “very, very violent.”
“Blaming ‘both sides’ for #Charlottesville?! No,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote. “Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.”
“Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of the blame,” Rubio wrote in one of six consecutive tweets. “They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain.”
“.@potus just doesn’t get it,” Curbelo wrote. “No moral equivalence between manifestations for and against white supremacy. He’s got to stop.”
They were hardly alone: Sen. Bill Nelson, the only Florida Democrat elected statewide, agreed.
“There is no defending white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the KKK,” he wrote.
A combative Trump had said removing a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee — the action white nationalists were protesting — would lead to a similar effort to do away with monuments to George Washington, because Washington owned slaves.
“You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” he asked.
The three Cuban Americans were among the slew of Republicans and Democrats who took Trump to task Saturday when he failed to specifically condemn white supremacists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan groups — known as the “alt-right” — who marched in Virginia. James Alex Fields Jr. has been charged with plowing his silver Dodge Challenger into a counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, whose father lives in Brevard County.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said.
“White supremacists, Neo-Nazis and anti-Semites are the antithesis of our American values,” Ros-Lehtinen wrote Saturday. “There are no other ‘sides’ to hatred and bigotry.”
Deluged with criticism, much of it from within the Republican Party, Trump made a much more forceful statement Monday.
“Racism is evil,” he said. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
In a CNN appearance Monday night, Curbelo said Trump should stop listening to two of his top aides who want to “accommodate” white nationalists.
Curbelo did not go as far as to say Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist and senior counselor, and Stephen Miller, Trump’s senior policy adviser, should be fired. But he told host Erin Burnett on “Out Front” that the two men should be “marginalized,” and the president should give more weight to other advisers, such as new Chief of Staff John Kelly.
“I’m not saying these people are racists,” Curbelo said. “I’m not saying they want to advance a racist agenda. But it is pretty clear they think these people should be accommodated.”
On Tuesday, Trump called Bannon a “good person” but left his future in question.
“He is not a racist, I can tell you that,” Trump told reporters. “We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Ros-Lehtinen began calling for Bannon’s ouster in April.