Donald Trump compared taking down a statue of Robert E. Lee to removing a statue of George Washington, inviting a whole new wave of criticism and pushing the country’s first president to Twitter’s trending topic list.
A combative Trump doubled down on his initial head-scratching defense of white supremacists following a violent rally in Charlottesville, North Carolina, over the weekend, which left three people dead, including one counter-protester who was plowed by car driven by a Nazi sympathizer. On Tuesday, the president tried to make a case that not all the demonstrators at the rally were neo-Nazis and racists, but rather regular citizens who were simply upset at the recent removal of a Confederate monument.
“Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “This week, it is Robert E Lee and this week, Stonewall Jackson. Is it George Washington next? You have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”
It took Twitter all of a New-York minute to show its displeasure, as the country’s first president quickly became a trending topic.
“Trump just equated Robert E. Lee to George Washington,” tweeted GQ’s Keith Olbermann. “His moral authority to lead this country has ended.”
Newsweek reporter Kurt Eichenwald said: “Trump equated a traitor to the Father of our Country.”
Never shy about his criticism of Trump, Filmmaker Michael Moore ended his tweet with the words “F— You.”
“OMG. What did we just watch? He blamed the anti-racism protesters. He likened George Washington to Robert E. Lee. Donald. Trump. Fuck. You,” Moore wrote.
And Politico White House correspondent Matthew Nussbaum called the comparison “profoundly ignorant.”
See more reactions below:
So much from that, but let me just say: Comparing Robert E. Lee to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson is really, profoundly ignorant.
— Matthew Nussbaum (@MatthewNussbaum) August 15, 2017
*logs on* oh george washington is trending must be a holiday or som– pic.twitter.com/dgvfv8cGLh
— Mina Kimes (@minakimes) August 15, 2017
George Washington: I cannot tell a lie
Richard Nixon: I cannot tell the truth
Donald Trump: I cannot tell the difference#TuesdayThoughts
— Cameron Grant (@coolcam101) August 15, 2017
NEW VIDEO: Trump just equated Robert E. Lee to George Washington. His moral authority to lead this country has ended pic.twitter.com/KpCDLkP7Di
— Keith Olbermann (@KeithOlbermann) August 15, 2017
George Washington is to Robert E. Lee as Barack Obama is to Donald J. Trump
— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 15, 2017
OMG. What did we just watch? He blamed the anti-racism protesters. He likened George Washington to Robert E. Lee. Donald. Trump. Fuck. You.
— Michael Moore (@MMFlint) August 15, 2017
President said this: “This week, it is Robert E. Lee … is it George Washington next?" Trump equated a traitor to the Father of our Country.
— Kurt Eichenwald (@kurteichenwald) August 15, 2017
Trump now seeming to equate George Washington and Thomas Jefferson with Confederate generals.
— Jim Sciutto (@jimsciutto) August 15, 2017
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) August 15, 2017
There are strong arguments for tearing down Confederate statues, but not George Washington. One could even try making them if so inclined.
— Benjy Sarlin (@BenjySarlin) August 15, 2017
We go live to George Washington, having been compared to Robert E Lee by Trump: pic.twitter.com/nWhVfbf1wj
— April (@ReignOfApril) August 15, 2017
George Washington is the father of our country where as Robert E. Lee was a traitor much like Trump! #ImpeachTrump
— marklaverdure (@marklaverdure) August 15, 2017