White nationalist leader and former Ku Klux Klan grand wizard David Duke is thanking President Donald Trump for saying that “both sides” share blame for the violence at white supremacist rallies over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about
#Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” Duke tweeted shortly after Trump took questions from reporters Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York following a speech about infrastructure.
Trump repeated his statement from Saturday, saying that there was blame on “many sides” for violence that claimed three lives and results in dozens of injuries.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump told a reporter after asking her to define the term “alt-right” for him. He kept at his point, saying the counter-protesters came “charging” at the white supremacist groups “with clubs in their hands.”
“I watched those [rallies more] closely than you people watched it,” Trump said. “You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say it right now.”
When another reporter asked Trump if the “alt-left” is the same as neo-Nazis, he responded: “All of those people, excuse me, I’ve condemned neo-Nazis, I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.”
The so-called “Unite the Right” rally was organized by Jason Kessler, a well-known “pro-white” nationalist who founded a group aiming to “protect the West” from “rampant immigration.”
Trump also declined to call the deadly vehicular attack on counter-protesters “terrorism” when reporters pushed. A participant in the rallies drove his car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing Heather Heyer, 32, and injuring 19 others. Trump called the driver a “murderer,” but said he didn’t want to get into “legal semantics.”
“Alt-Left” quickly started trending on Twitter after the press conference, bring several who agree with Duke out of the woodwork. It also spurred a flurry of reaction condemning Trump’s words.
Trump calling out the Alt-Left (ANTIFA) is a big step. Their violence and vulgarity can no longer be ignored.
— Based Monitored ???????? (@BasedMonitored) August 15, 2017
The Leftist Media has pretended that the "Alt-Left" or Antifa doesn't exist. Trump just ended that today. #GeorgeWashington
— The Columbia Bugle (@ColumbiaBugle) August 15, 2017
Pictured: the violent alt-left charging the Nazis during WWII. pic.twitter.com/a6BqW51V8g
— オタク Richie B. (@richiebranson) August 15, 2017
Guess what? There's no such thing as 'Alt-Left'.
It's terms devised by rightwing extremists, Nazis, white supremacists, and US presidents.
— Mike P Williams ???? (@Mike_P_Williams) August 15, 2017
Trump is using the presidency to defend the KKK and neo-Nazis. Supporting him has always meant condoning that. Now it's explicitly clear.
— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) August 15, 2017
— CNN (@CNN) August 15, 2017
Charlottesville violence was fueled by one side: white supremacists spreading racism, intolerance & intimidation. Those are the facts.
— Senator Tim Kaine (@timkaine) August 15, 2017
The President of the United States just defended neo-Nazis and blamed those who condemn their racism and hate. This is sick.
— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) August 15, 2017