President Trump has defended his infamous 2017 statement that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the deadly white supremacist protests in Charlottesville.
The comments have resurfaced after former vice president Joe Biden used them to attack Trump during the launch of his presidential campaign.
When asked to clarify his remarks that there were good people on both sides of the rally which killed one person, Trump stood by his claim.
If you look at what I said you will see that that question was answered perfectly.
I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.
These remarks have been among the most scandalous of Trump’s presidency so far. White supremacists and neo-Nazis who incited the rally were heard chanting “Jews will not replace us”, whereas counter-protesters were protesting against fascism.
At the 2017 rally, participants were protesting the planned removal of a statue of Lee, the head of the Confederate military during the Civil War. Trump said of Lee:
Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals.
General Lee was head of the Confederate Army and was also himself a slave owner. The controversial figure has, to some, become known as a “symbol of racism and America’s slaveholding history.”
Historian Elizabeth Brown Pryor wrote in a 2008 American Heritage article that Lee was often to cruel to his slaves and frequently “resorted to increasingly harsh measures to maintain control.”
According to Prior, one former slave referred to Lee as “the worst man I ever see.”
On Trump’s 2017 remarks, Biden said during his presidential announcement:
In that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I had ever seen in my lifetime.
I wrote at the time that we’re in a battle for the soul of this nation. Well, that’s even more true to today.