Washington: President Donald Trump has signed a resolution condemning white supremacists and hate groups, hours after reviving his assertion that there were “bad dudes” among the people who assembled to oppose a white nationalist protest in Charlottesville, Virginia, last month.
“You know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also,” the president told reporters aboard Air Force once, sparking another round of criticism that the president has failed to adequately condemn hate speech.
The resolution, passed by Congress earlier this week, condemns “the violence and domestic terrorist attack that took place” in Charlottesville as well as white supremacists, neo- Nazis and other hate groups.
It also urges the president and his administration to “speak out against hate groups that espouse racism, extremism, xenophobia, anti-Semitism and white supremacy,” and calls on the Justice Department and other federal agencies to “use all resources available” to address the growing prevalence of those groups.
“As Americans, we condemn the recent violence in Charlottesville and oppose hatred, bigotry, and racism in all forms,” Trump said in a statement announcing the signing. He called on Americans to move forward “as one people” and “to rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.”
Trump’s earlier comments on Charlottesville came one day after he met in private with Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the Senate’s lone black Republican, at the White House. The two discussed the president’s past remarks blaming “many sides” for the violence and death around a Confederate statue.
Recounting his conversation with Scott, Trump told reporters aboard Air Force One yesterday: “I think especially in light of the advent of antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also. And essentially that’s what I said.”
“Antifa” is short for “anti-fascist,” an umbrella description for far-left-leaning militant groups.
Trump added that more and more people are starting to agree with him.
“A lot of people are saying in fact a lot of people have actually written, ‘Gee Trump might have a point,'” Trump said.
“I said, ‘You got some very bad people on the other side also,’ which is true.”
Trump last month said there were “very fine people” among the nationalists and neo-Nazis protesting the possible removal of a Confederate statue in Charlottesville.
Scott said he told the president that there was no comparison.
“We had three or four centuries of rape, murder and death brought at the hands of the (Ku Klux Klan) and those who believe in a superior race,” he told reporters at the Capitol.
“I wanted to make sure we were clear on the delineation between who’s on which side in the history of the nation.”
Scott bluntly criticised Trump for assigning blame in a way that put white supremacist protesters on equal footing with counterdemonstrators who turned out for the August 12 protests, sparked by Charlottesville officials’ decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E Lee.
That remark, Scott said, compromised Trump’s moral authority as president.