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Trump doubles down on 'both sides' rhetoric about Charlottesville: Dale

In New York on Tuesday, Donald Trump again said there is “blame on both sides” for the weekend’s violence in Charlottesville, Va. He also compared Confederate general Robert E. Lee to George Washington.

President Donald Trump pauses as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.

AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

President Donald Trump pauses as he answers questions in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, Tuesday, Aug. 15, 2017.

WASHINGTON—In the angriest public tirade of his two years in national politics, U.S. President Donald Trump departed from his rebuke of white supremacists to deliver a remarkable denunciation of what he called the “alt-left,” blaming anti-Fascist protesters, rather than neo-Nazis alone, for the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday.

Trump had bowed to withering national criticism and delivered a sombre prepared statement on Monday in which he belatedly denounced the white racists, one of whom is accused of murdering a liberal protester.

But he revealed his true feelings in a Tuesday rant at Trump Tower, alleging that the left-wing counter protesters were “violently attacking the other group” with baseball bats and “without a permit.”

“That’s the way it is,” he said acidly, accusing the media of unfairly pinning all the blame on the right-wing side.

Trump also took pains to defend the right-wingers. Though the demonstration involved people with Nazi flags and other Nazi symbols, plus leading “alt-right” white supremacists who do not identify as neo-Nazis, Trump declared, “Not all of those people were neo-Nazis.”

“Define alt-right to me. No, define it for me,” he challenged reporters.

The white nationalist demonstration, he said, also included good people who were merely opposed to the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the general who commanded the forces of the pro-slavery Confederate secessionists.

"You also had people that were very fine people on both sides," he said.  

In his most explicit endorsement of Confederate icons, he argued that removing statues of Lee would lead the country down a slippery slope.

“George Washington was a slave owner ... so will George Washington, now, lose his status?” Trump asked.

“You’re changing history. You’re changing culture,” he said.

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