‘Many sides’ explained
President Donald Trump on Tuesday stood in his Manhattan tower and, in a testy news conference, denounced what he called an “alt left” group that he said “came charging at the alt-right” in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday during the disturbances there.
Widely viewed videos show clashes to which he’s referring, which he complained were being ignored. He also underscored his denunciation Monday of racists and neo-Nazis — but noted that not all those who appeared at the rally to oppose replacing the Robert E. Lee statue were violent or fascistic, and that there were protesters of good faith on both sides.
Newsday’s Laura Figueroa reports details.
On the matter of commemorative statues, he asked rhetorically if removing the likenesses of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson would be next, noting that a removal of a Confederate General Stonewall Jackson statue is underway. That prompted more debate over Trump’s equating the “sides.”
Graceful words in mourning
Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, who was killed at the rally when police said a white supremacist allegedly rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, said in a statement:
“Thank you, President Trump, for those words of comfort and for denouncing those who promote violence and hatred,” according to NBC News. “My condolences, also, to the grieving families of the two state troopers and quick recovering for those injured.”
Trump said he had not yet spoken with her, but was reaching out.
Trump supports ‘facts’
The president defended his delay in denouncing white racist groups by name until after the weekend by saying: “I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct, not make a quick statement.
“The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts.”
That’s noteworthy if only because Trump’s recitation of information has fallen so far short of true in the past that during the campaign his aides urged he be taken “seriously, not literally.”
Stronger statements on domestic terrorism in Charlottesville from administration underlings — such as Attorney General Jeff Sessions — preceded Trump’s by a day or more.
Bannon? ‘We’ll see’
Trump was asked at his tempestuous Q&A about the future of adviser Steve Bannon, whose dismissal has been reportedly urged by the likes of News Corp. and Fox News owner Rupert Murdoch.
For whatever reason, Trump chose to mention that right-winger Bannon — widely credited as the brains behind the real-estate heir’s election — “came on very late” in the race. “I like him, he’s a good man, he is not a racist, I can tell you that. But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”
Hardly a ringing endorsement. But Bannon has told others in the past he didn’t expect to stay long in the job — and reports of his demise have proved premature before.
The number of business executives departing Trump’s advisory council on manufacturing reached six Tuesday in response to his initial hesitation during the weekend to blast white supremacists as he did on Monday.
The departures brought another jeer from the president on Twitter: “For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!”
The punchline is that the council — one of several voluntary presidential advisory panels — hasn’t even met yet. But during his news conference, Trump attacked the departees for overseas trade.
Infrastructure plan still flailing
Trump signed another executive order, this one aimed at easing the environmental permitting process for infrastructure projects, as Newsday’s Figueroa reports.
“Our infrastructure will again be the best,” Trump said, noting that the current infrastructure was comparable to that of “a Third World country.”
But despite many statements of his trillion-dollar intentions, Trump still hasn’t negotiated a bill with Congress, named projects, or detailed how he intends to pay for them. He made a similar announcement in June, with little progress since.
What else is happening
- The Justice Department has demanded that a web company turn over 1.3 million IP addresses of people who visited a site organizing protests at Trump’s inauguration, the DreamHost firm says.
- Joseph Arpaio, the Arizona sheriff lionized by anti-immigration activists, is under consideration for a presidential pardon on his recent contempt conviction, Fox reports.
- Trump tweeted but later deleted a cartoon image of a ‘Trump train’ hitting a man labeled as CNN.
- Vice President Mike Pence says he was aware of no collusion with Russia during the campaign.
- Anthony Scaramucci, the quickly-booted Trump spokesman, told Stephen Colbert Bannon should be fired.