President Donald Trump spent the first part of his Tuesday rally in Phoenix, Arizona, blaming the media for twisting his words and inflaming divisions following the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Reading from a piece of paper, Trump detailed his multiple responses given on separate days following the white supremacists rally protesting the removal of a statue of Civil War general Robert E. Lee. However, missing from his recall was his now infamous “on many sides” remark.
“What happened in Charlottesville strikes at the core of America. And tonight, this entire arena stands united against the thugs who perpetrate hatred and violence,” Trump told a cheering crowd. “I strongly condemn neo-Nazis, white supremacists and the KKK.”
“The media can attack me, but where I draw the line is when they attack you, which is what they do,” he said. “It’s time to expose the crooked media deceptions and to challenge the media for their role in fomenting division.”
As he read his second response in which he mentioned white supremacists and the KKK by name, he told the crowd: “I hit ‘em with neo-Nazi, I hit ‘em with everything. KKK? We have KKK. I got ‘em all.”
Trump also skipped over his most controversial remarks, when he said during a jaw-dropping news conference that there were “very fine people on both sides.”
A visibly disgusted Don Lemon told his CNN viewers right after the rally was over: “Well, what do you say to that? I’m just going to speak from the heart, here. What we just witnessed was a total eclipse of the facts. Someone who came out on stage and lied directly to the American people and left things out that he said in an attempt to rewrite history. “
“He’s unhinged,” Lemon went on say. “It’s embarrassing, and I don’t mean for us, the media, because he went after us, but for the country. This is who we elected president of the United States.”
Trump did not pardon former Arizona sheriff Joe Arpaio, despite speculation earlier in the day that he would use the event to make the announcement. But he did suggest that a pardon could be coming soon.
“I think he’s going to be just fine,” Trump told a boisterous crowd. “I’m not going to do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy.”
Arpaio was convicted last month of criminal contempt for defying a court order to stop detaining suspected undocumented immigrants.
Trump’s “Make America Great Again” rally marked his eighth campaign-style rally since taking the oath of office.
Thousands of people flocked to Downtown Phoenix to protest the rally. There were some minor scuffles between protesters and Trump supporters as people lined up to get inside the venue.
The rally comes as Trump is trying to turn the page following a number of controversies, including the backlash over his defense of violent white nationalist at a rally in Charlottesville, in which one woman died after a driver plowed into a group of counter-protesters.