Two days after the death of rally-goer Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Virginia, for which purported fascist sympathizer James Alex Fields Jr. was charged, President Donald Trump amended his stance, as Newsday’s Emily Ngo reports.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said Monday.
That followed criticism, including from some Republicans, after he failed to call out white supremacists in particular as he broadly deplored hate and violence on “many sides.”
Et tu, Imperial Wizard?
Following the new message, ex-KKK leader David Duke, who backed Trump before, said: “President Trump, please, for God’s sake, don’t feel like you need to say these things. It’s not going to do you any good.”
During the demonstration Saturday, Duke said, “We’re going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump.”
And Monday evening, Duke retweeted this plaintive message from Trump: “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied ... truly bad people!”
Hours before Trump revised his message, Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigned in protest from a federal council advising the president.
“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy,” Frazier tweeted.
Trump slammed back on Twitter: “Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”
Far East follow up
Trump authorized an inquiry into China’s trade policies on intellectual property — the theft of which has been considered a problem during several prior U.S. administrations.
Trump returned to Washington, D.C., from vacation in New Jersey Monday to sign a memo that instructs Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to decide whether to launch a full-fledged probe into the matter, which could take a year.
The signing flares rhetorical tensions with China at a time of saber-rattling over North Korea. The administration has been trying to prod or persuade China to act against the rogue state’s nuclear threat.
But trade aside, China did follow up on a U.S.-led UN resolution by issuing a ban on several imports from North Korea, including coal, iron and seafood.
Takin’ it to the Tower
Demonstrators were gathering, with a new summer traffic disruption planned in midtown — the president’s return to his home in Trump Tower. He’s scheduled to head back Wednesday to Bedminster, New Jersey, the site of his golf club, where he’s vacationing.
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the NYPD would be “ready by any measure,” and “to his credit” Trump has kept his time in the city and consequent disruptions “very limited.”
Chants from demonstrators outside the tower Monday evening included “New York hates you!”
What else is happening
- Trump campaign officials rejected repeated entreaties by a staffer that they meet with Russian leaders, emails show.
- The FBI arrested a man described as a Timothy McVeigh fan who allegedly tried to detonate what he thought was a 1,000-pound bomb.
- An inflatable Trump rat was set up to greet the president at his Trump Tower arrival.
- What Trump called a press conference was not a many-sided affair, since it didn’t allow for press questions.
- Protesters in Durham, North Carolina, pulled down a Confederate statue Monday evening.
- Interviews with Fields’ acquaintances in Ohio painted a picture of an emotionally disturbed person who attacked his mother and adhered to neo-Nazi beliefs.