NEW YORK—President Donald Trump said there were two sides to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia last Saturday, calling out both white supremacists and left wing protesters.
“You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious, it was horrible,” Trump said when asked by a reporter whether the “alt-left is as bad as the white supremacists,” following a press conference about infrastructure at Trump Tower in New York.
Trump reiterated a previous statement he made on Aug. 12 after a woman was killed when a man drove a car into a left wing counter protest of a white nationalist rally.
“We condemned in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, it has no place in America,” he said.
But the president said that while neo-Nazis should be condemned in the strongest terms, there were also people who had come to legitimately and peacefully protest against the removal of the statue of confederate general Robert E. Lee.
“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 … Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” he said.
Trump said the left wing counter protesters, who had come without a permit, were also to blame for the violence.
“What about the alt-left that came charging … They came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs, do they have any problem? I think they do,” Trump said.
“I think there’s blame on both sides. you look at both sides, I think there’s blame on both sides.”
Trump specifically called out, albeit not by name, the Antifa group, a communist and anarchist group that has been behind a series of violent protests.
“You see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and the baseball bats. You had a lot of people in the other group,” he said.