White supremacists are celebrating online after Donald Trump’s latest remarks addressing the Charlottesville rioting.
Mr Trump “went rogue” during a press conference about infrastructure at Trump Tower on Tuesday, a White House source told NBC, by taking questions on Saturday’s violence in Virginia and repeating his belief that blame lay on “both sides”.
He told reporters in New York during a sometimes heated exchange: “I have no doubt about it. You don’t have doubt about it either.”
Not everyone protesting against the removal of the city’s statue of Confederate general Robert E Lee was a neo-Nazi, Mr Trump said, and that while “you had some very bad people in that group”, there were also “some very fine people on both sides”.
Ex-KKK leader David Duke praised the President for his “honesty and courage” while a Fox News clip of Mr Trump speaking was shared across far-right sections of Twitter, including by white nationalist blogger Hunter Wallace, who had joined the ranks of protesters on the day.
White supremacist leader Richard Spencer also retweeted the clip, while on alternative social media site Gab, users said Mr Trump “came through for us” and that “this is more like it”, according to Think Progress. “I was fist-pumping!” said another.
Mr Spencer said: “Trump’s statement was fair and down to earth. #Charlottesville could have been peaceful, if police did its job.”
Footage from Saturday showed how the right-wing crowd gathered early in the day, with white nationalist groups armed with batons and shields forming ranks as they approached Emancipation Park.
Video also emerged of heavily armed militia groups filing through the Charlottesville streets carrying AR-15 assault rifles with spare ammunition, knives, radios and tactical clothing.
When violence did erupt, anti-fascist demonstrators faced off with members of several white nationalist groups, with pepper spray and other weapons used by both.
But it was counter-protesters who were victims in the most shocking violence of the day, when James Fields, 20, allegedly drove a car into their group, killing one and injuring several more.
Mr Trump had faced widespread criticism for his failure to condemn directly the racism on display at Charlottesville until two days afterward.
He first denounced “violence on all sides” but issued a second statement on Monday.
He said: “No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
His fellow Republicans reacted swiftly after yesterday’s statement.
House majority leader Paul Ryan said: “We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”
And senior senator John McCain said on Twitter: “There’s no moral equivalency between racists & Americans standing up to defy hate& bigotry. The President of the United States should say so”.Japanese Foreign, Defense Ministers Heading to US for Talks With Counterparts