Trump's 2nd Charlottesville Speech Only Condemned Neo-Nazis Because His Aides Insisted It Was Important — REPORT
In response to the tragic events in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend, the president made two public statements of wildly different tones, appearing to bend to public pressure to condemn the specific hate groups that participated in the Charlottesville protests. However, according to the Associated Press Donald Trump resisted making his second Charlottesville statement, and had to be forced into addressing the nation by White House staff.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said Saturday in his initial statement on Charlottesville. This quickly drew ire from Americans who saw fault with only one side, though eventually those asking for the president to denounce white nationalist hate groups won.
Trump's revised remarks made Monday specifically called out "criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups." But according to White House sources who spoke to AP, Trump reportedly didn't want to make the statement at all.
"Loath to appear to be admitting a mistake, Trump was reluctant to adjust his remarks," wrote reporter Jonathon Lemire of AP. "Several of Trump’s senior advisers, including new chief of staff John Kelly, had urged him to make a more specific condemnation, warning that the negative story would not go away and that the rising tide of criticism from fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill could endanger his legislative agenda, according to two White House officials."
It might have even mattered that Trump made the second statement at all — many Americans rejected Trump's statement as too little, too late. Late Night host Seth Meyers blasted Trump during his opening monologue Monday, voicing the feeling that thousands on social media had already shared.
"Trump did read a statement at the White House [Monday] that finally struck the right tone, but I’m sorry, pencils down on this subject was Saturday evening," Meyers said. "He only gets very partial credit." NPR's Scott Simon made a similar analogy via Twitter: "I don't think you get to turn in a paper two days after the test is over and get an A."
Trump's response to the Charlottesville protests hasn't surprised many, but it seems to have intensified the belief that the country can't survive with him in office. Renewed calls for impeachment have echoed online, and the level of divisiveness between Americans has rarely seemed higher. The United States seems to be approaching an untenable situation, and the question now is what will fall first: Trump's presidency, or the republic itself.