Magazine article Newsweek

How Donald Trump Decided to Go Soft on White Supremacists; in the Aftermath of Charlottesville, Trump's Statement about the Clash Became a Large Part of the News Itself and Was Widely Criticized for Inflaming the Situation by Not Unequivocally Condemning the Actions of the White Supremacists

Magazine article Newsweek

How Donald Trump Decided to Go Soft on White Supremacists; in the Aftermath of Charlottesville, Trump's Statement about the Clash Became a Large Part of the News Itself and Was Widely Criticized for Inflaming the Situation by Not Unequivocally Condemning the Actions of the White Supremacists

Article excerpt

Byline: Terry McAuliffe

In the aftermath of the Charlottesville riot and the tragic deaths of Heather Heyer and two state troopers (who died in a helicopter accident during the chaos of the day), President Donald Trump's statement about the clash became a large part of the news itself.

He has been widely criticized for inflaming the situation by not unequivocally condemning the actions of the white supremacists at the rally and mentioning fine people "on many sides" of the issue; in a later press conference he did walk that back by saying, "I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally," but it was seen as too little, too late.

In this excerpt from Beyond Charlottesville, former Governor Terry McAuliffe describes his reaction to Trump's news conference.

Donald Trump said he would be going in front of the cameras right after our call to address the tragedy of what happened in Charlottesville.

I would hold off on making any statement until after the president had spoken. He was going to come out against these white supremacists brandishing Confederate flags and neo-Nazis with swastikas on their shields. This should not have been a hard choice to make. Trump was going to take a clear stand. I thanked the president for his support in our time of crisis and said, "Mr. President, let's you and I work together to heal these wounds."

Then something happened. I don't know what, but something.

I kept waiting, and still there was no Trump press conference. An hour later, still no Trump. I had given him updated information from all the relevant law enforcement on the ground in Charlottesville. The nation was waiting. Who else did he need to consult? I can't say. I can't account for the missing hours. I just know that when Trump finally stepped up to the podium, he let America down.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence," he began, but then added, looking up from his notes, "on many sides, on many sides."

What was he talking about? On many sides? The president and I had only talked about one side, the side with the heavily armed white supremacists and neo-Nazis on a mission of hate and violence, not the other side with peaceful protesters taking a stand against hate and division. …

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