Trump slams Puerto Ricans: ‘They want everything to be done for them’

President Trump on Saturday criticized Puerto Rico’s “poor leadership” and defended his administration’s response to the aftermath of Hurricane Maria’s devastation on the island in an early morning series of tweets that earned immediate backlash from Democrats and other critics.

Following a plea for aid on Friday by San Juan’s mayor, Trump said the mayor was being “nasty.”

“The mayor of San Juan, who was very complimentary only a few days ago, has now been told by the Democrats that you must be nasty to Trump,” Trump tweeted. “Such poor leadership ability by the mayor of San Juan, and others in Puerto Rico, who are not able to get their workers to help.”

“They want everything to be done for them when it should be a community effort,” he continued. “10,000 Federal workers now on Island doing a fantastic job.”

http://thehill.com/homenews/administration/353216-trump-criticizes-san-juan-mayors-poor-leadership-during-puerto-rico

Trump Congratulates African Leaders for Making His Friends Rich

President Donald Trump on Wednesday was met with silence when he congratulated the leaders of African countries on the continent’s economic progress, telling them, “I’ve so many friends going to your countries, trying to get rich. I congratulate you. They’re spending a lot of money.”

Trump delivered the remark at a luncheon he hosted with the leaders of many of the 54 diverse nations on the African continent. And while Trump almost certainly meant it as compliment, and even seemed to pause for applause, not one attendee clapped.

For centuries, Europeans and Americans have exploited Africa’s natural resources and labor force, not least during the trans-Atlantic slave trade. In the post-Colonial era, the U.S. government has supported dozens of authoritarian regimes on the African continent, while American companies have made billions of dollars from deals with dictatorships.

Since taking office in January, Trump has nominated ambassadors to only around a dozen African nations, despite having recalled all Obama-era ambassadors before he was inaugurated. This means that the vast majority of nations on the continent do not currently have a U.S. ambassador with whom they can conduct bilateral diplomacy.

During the same speech, Trump also mispronounced Namibia as “Nambia,” saying very clearly that “Nambia’s health system is increasingly self-sufficient.”

A White House transcript confirmed that Trump meant to say Namibia.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment from CNBC.

[CNBC]

Trump Administration Rejects Study Showing Positive Impact of Refugees

Trump administration officials, under pressure from the White House to provide a rationale for reducing the number of refugees allowed into the United States next year, rejected a study by the Department of Health and Human Services that found that refugees brought in $63 billion more in government revenues over the past decade than they cost.

The draft report, which was obtained by The New York Times, contradicts a central argument made by advocates of deep cuts in refugee totals as President Trump faces an Oct. 1 deadline to decide on an allowable number. The issue has sparked intense debate within his administration as opponents of the program, led by Mr. Trump’s chief policy adviser, Stephen Miller, assert that continuing to welcome refugees is too costly and raises concerns about terrorism.

Advocates of the program inside and outside the administration say refugees are a major benefit to the United States, paying more in taxes than they consume in public benefits, and filling jobs in service industries that others will not. But research documenting their fiscal upside — prepared for a report mandated by Mr. Trump in a March presidential memorandum implementing his travel ban — never made its way to the White House. Some of those proponents believe the report was suppressed.

The internal study, which was completed in late July but never publicly released, found that refugees “contributed an estimated $269.1 billion in revenues to all levels of government” between 2005 and 2014 through the payment of federal, state and local taxes. “Overall, this report estimated that the net fiscal impact of refugees was positive over the 10-year period, at $63 billion.”

But White House officials said those conclusions were illegitimate and politically motivated, and were disproved by the final report issued by the agency, which asserts that the per-capita cost of a refugee is higher than that of an American.

“This leak was delivered by someone with an ideological agenda, not someone looking at hard data,” said Raj Shah, a White House spokesman. “The actual report pursuant to the presidential memorandum shows that refugees with few skills coming from war-torn countries take more government benefits from the Department of Health and Human Services than the average population, and are not a net benefit to the U.S. economy.”

John Graham, the acting assistant secretary for planning and evaluation at the health department, said: “We do not comment on allegedly leaked documents” and that no report had been finalized. He noted that Mr. Trump’s memorandum “seeks an analysis related to the cost of refugee programs. Therefore, the only analysis in the scope of H.H.S.’s response to the memo would be on refugee-related expenditures from data within H.H.S. programs.”

The three-page report the agency ultimately submitted, dated Sept. 5, does just that, using government data to compare the costs of refugees to Americans and making no mention of revenues contributed by refugees.

“In an average year over the 10-year period, per-capita refugee costs for major H.H.S. programs totaled $3,300,” it says. “Per-person costs for the U.S. population were lower, at $2,500, reflecting a greater participation of refugees in H.H.S. programs, especially during their first four years” in the United States.

It was not clear who in the administration decided to keep the information out of the final report. An internal email, dated Sept. 5 and sent among officials from government agencies involved in refugee issues, said that “senior leadership is questioning the assumptions used to produce the report.” A separate email said that Mr. Miller had requested a meeting to discuss the report. The Times was shown the emails on condition that the sender not be identified. Mr. Miller personally intervened in the discussions on the refugee cap to ensure that only the costs — not any fiscal benefit — of the program were considered, according to two people familiar with the talks.

He has also played a crucial role in the internal discussions over refugee admissions, which are capped by an annual presidential determination that is usually coordinated by the National Security Council and led in large part by the State Department.

This year, officials at the State Department as well as the Department of Defense have argued vociferously that the United States should admit no fewer than the 50,000-refugee cap that Mr. Trump imposed in January as part of the travel ban, but Mr. Miller has advocated for a much lower number — half or less, according to people familiar with the internal talks who described them on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to detail them. The Department of Homeland Security last week proposed a cap of 40,000. The limits being debated would be the lowest in more than three decades.

“We see an administration that’s running a program that it’s intent on destroying,” said Mark Hetfield, the president of HIAS, one of nine refugee resettlement agencies opposing the cut in admissions. “We do have champions in the White House and in the administration, but they’re not being given a voice in this.”

The issue is coming to a head as Mr. Trump attends the United Nations General Assembly this week for the first time as president. The United Nations has repeatedly appealed to nations to resettle 1.2 million refugees fleeing war and persecution from all over the world, and former President Barack Obama used the gathering last year to tout his goal of admitting 110,000 refugees in the fiscal year that ends this month, and to pressure other countries to follow the lead of the United States in embracing more displaced people.

Mr. Trump, by contrast, has highlighted his goal of radically cutting refugee admissions. The president moved swiftly after taking office to crack down on refugees, issuing his original ban against travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries only a week after taking office.

Facing legal challenges to that order, his administration released a second travel ban two months later against six countries, along with a presidential memorandum in which Mr. Trump called on the secretary of state to consult with the secretaries of Health and Human Services and Homeland Security and his White House budget director and submit within 180 days “a report detailing the estimated long-term costs of the United States Refugee Admissions Program at the federal, state, and local levels, along with recommendations about how to curtail those costs.”

The budget Mr. Trump released in May argued that refugees and other immigrants were a fiscal drain. “Under the refugee program, the federal government brings tens of thousands of entrants into the United States, on top of existing legal immigration flows, who are instantly eligible for time-limited cash benefits and numerous noncash federal benefits, including food assistance through SNAP, medical care and education, as well as a host of state and local benefits,” the document said.

It would be less costly, it argued, if there were fewer refugees, since “each refugee admitted into the United States comes at the expense of helping a potentially greater number out of country.” Inside the administration, those who espouse this view argue that any research purporting to illustrate fiscal benefits of refugees is flawed and reflects only wishful thinking.

As Mr. Trump deliberates privately about the issue, a coalition of human rights and religious groups as well as former national security officials in both parties has formed to encourage him not to allow the refugee cap to plummet.

“From a national security standpoint, while we can’t take an unlimited number of refugees, we need to show our friends and allies that we stand with them and this is a shared burden,” said Michael Chertoff, the secretary of homeland security under George W. Bush.

“They’ve generated a lot of economic value,” Mr. Chertoff added in an interview. “I don’t think refugees are coming to take American jobs.”

Trump Attacks ESPN After Anchor Calls Him a White Supremacist

President Trump has a new target in the media — ESPN.

The president said on Twitter on Friday morning that ESPN “is paying a really big price for its politics (and bad programming). People are dumping it in RECORD numbers. Apologize for untruth.”

He was apparently referring to ESPN anchor Jemele Hill, who in a recent tweet said that “Donald Trump is a white supremacist who has largely surrounded himself w/ other white supremacists.”

Hill’s assertion caused an uproar, particularly in conservative media circles, where ESPN’s political bent has been a point of contention for years.

Wall Street analysts and ESPN executives generally agree that ESPN’s subscriber losses are primarily a result of cost-conscious consumers and a changing business model.

But the president, through his tweet on Friday, sided with the conservative commentators who say it’s really liberal bias that is poisoning ESPN and dragging down the business.

His call for an apology is also noteworthy. Hill addressed the controversy earlier this week, but pointedly did not apologize for her “white supremacist” statement. She only expressed regret for painting ESPN in an unfair light.

ESPN said in a followup statement that the network accepted her apology.

The network clearly wants to move on — but Trump might make that more difficult.

Neither Hill nor ESPN immediately responded to the president’s Friday morning tweet, and ESPN did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hill, an African American woman, has been an outspoken critic of Trump all year long. The current controversy erupted on Monday night she called him a “bigot,” a “threat” and a “white supremacist” on Twitter.

The next day, as people who were outraged by the tweets demanded action from ESPN, the network said that Hill’s tweets “do not represent the position of ESPN.”

“We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate,” the network said.

When White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked about it on Wednesday, she said Hill’s criticism of the president should be considered a “fireable offense by ESPN.”

The next day, on Fox News, Sanders reiterated this: “I think it was highly inappropriate, and I think ESPN should take actions. But I’ll leave that up to them to decide, and I’ll stay focused on my day job.”

ESPN had 90 million subscribers as of September 2016, the most recent numbers it has reported. That’s down 2 million from a year earlier and down from a high of 100 million in 2010.

On Fox, it’s a popular talking point that those subscriber losses are due to rampant liberal bias. There’s little evidence to support that theory.

As the monthly cable bundle has become more and more expensive, and streaming has become more popular, some homes have dropped the big bundles that include ESPN, the priciest channel on cable. Others have discontinued cable altogether and turned to streaming services.

The vast majority of U.S. homes continue to pay for cable, including ESPN. But the cutbacks have put pressure on ESPN and other sports networks.

To address this, ESPN is planning to roll out a direct-to-consumer streaming service next year.

[CNN]

Trump Again Blames Both Sides for Charlottesville Violence

President Donald Trump is not backing off his defiant response to violence at a white supremacist rally in Virginia last month.

The president told reporters on Thursday that he told Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C., in a one-on-one meeting that “you have some pretty bad dudes” opposing white nationalists. His comments echoed the most divisive remarks he has made as president, which drew criticism from bipartisan lawmakers, business leaders and his own advisors.

Trump invited Scott, the only African-American Republican in the Senate, to the meeting Wednesday in what the White House reportedly called a demonstration of his commitment to positive race relations.

Trump says he told Scott that violence by some in the so-called antifa movement — far-left groups who oppose white nationalists — justified his remarks condemning “both sides” for the Charlottesville violence. A suspected white nationalist is accused of ramming a car into a crowd of counterprotesters in Charlottesville, killing one woman and injuring many others.

Here’s Trump’s summary of his meeting with Scott, according to pool reporters aboard Air Force One:

I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also and essentially that’s what I said. Now because of what’s happened since then with Antifa. When you look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump may have a point.’ I said there’s some very bad people on the other side also.

Scott’s office responded to Trump’s comments by saying he was “very, very clear about the brutal history surrounding the white supremacist movement and their horrific treatment of black and other minority groups.”

“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to expect the president’s rhetoric to change based on one 30 minute conversation is unrealistic,” the statement said. “Antifa is bad and should be condemned, yes, but white supremacists have been killing and tormenting black Americans for centuries. There is no realistic comparison.”

Last month, when Trump said “very fine people” marched with the white nationalists in Virginia, his remarks drew widespread condemnation. The comments led to the dissolution of two business councils advising Trump and caused White House chief economic advisor Gary Cohn, among others, to publicly rebuke the president.

Scott also commended Trump for saying he wanted to diversify his staff. He also said he was encouraged by Trump considering his Investing in Opportunity Act, which aims to invest in economically distressed communities.

[CNBC]

Reality

Donald Trump AGAIN said the people who were run over and killed by Nazis driving their car through a crowd in Charlottesville were just as much to blame for violence as the actual Nazis who ran their car through a crowd to kill protester.

This is unbelievable coming from a President of the United States.

Trump took particular aim at Antifa, a small and insignificant anti-fascist movement that right-wing media like Fox News uses to paint the entire left as a violent agitators.

White House: ESPN anchor that called Trump racist should be fired

An ESPN anchor who called President Trump a white supremacist should be fired, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders said.

ESPN has reprimanded Jemele Hill, an African-American woman who co-hosts a show called “SC6 with Michael and Jemele,” for a string of tweets sent out over the weekend calling Trump and his supporters white supremacists.

An ESPN anchor who called President Trump a white supremacist should be fired, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said Wednesday.

“That is one of the more outrageous comments that anybody could make and certainly is something that is a fireable offense by ESPN,” Sanders said.

ESPN has reprimanded Jemele Hill, an African-American woman who co-hosts a show called “SC6 with Michael and Jemele,” for a string of tweets sent out over the weekend calling Trump and his supporters white supremacists.

In a statement, ESPN sought to distance itself from Smith’s remarks.

“The comments on Twitter from Jemele Hill regarding the president do not represent the position of ESPN,” the network said. “We have addressed this with Jemele and she recognizes her actions were inappropriate.”

But many on the right are fuming, believing that it is the latest in a string of incidents that reveal ESPN’s liberal bias.

Sanders on Tuesday defended Trump, saying that he had met recently with Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.), who is black, and other “highly respected leaders in the African-American community” and that he is “committed to working with them to bring the country together.”

“That’s where we need to be focused, not on outrageous statements like this one,” Sanders said.

[The Hill]

Reality

You know who else thinks Donald Trump is a white supremacist? Congress. Who a few days after passed a resolution forcing Trump to officially denounce white supremacy.

In any event, Sarah Huckabee Sanders at best was highly inappropriate to user her federal position to influence private employment decisions, and at worse she may have broken the law.

This law essentially states certain government employees — including the president, vice president and “any other executive branch employee” — are prohibited from influencing the employment decisions or practices of a private entity (such as ESPN) “solely on the basis of partisan political affiliation.”

Breaking this law can lead to a fine or imprisonment up to 15 years — possibly both — and could lead to disqualification from “holding any office of honor, trust, or profit under the United States.”

 

Trump Cites “Anti-Police Agitators,” in Boston, Then Thanks Crowds For Protesting “Hate”

President Trump decried “anti-police agitators” in Boston Saturday, after thousands of demonstrators with anti-Nazi and anti-racism signs and chants drowned out a small group of white nationalists holding a “free speech” rally.

The president, taking to Twitter to praise police as “looking tough and smart,” thanked them and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh for their handling of the event.

Police did appear to scuffle with a large crowd of counter-protesters Saturday, but the president’s response to the event that drew tens of thousands of largely peaceful counter-protesters is sure to spark criticism. Mr. Trump is already under fire for saying there were “very fine people” among the white nationalist protesters in last week’s deadly events in Charlottesville, Virginia, and for claiming “many sides” were to blame for the violence.

The president also said protest is sometimes necessary to “heal” the nation.

But Mr. Trump’s Twitter account later thanked people for protesting “bigotry and hate.”

The group that organized the “free speech” rally had until recently intended to have speakers with ties to white nationalism. Boston police did experience some confrontation against them, the Boston Police Department’s Twitter account seems to indicate. The police commissioner said 27 people were arrested throughout the day.

[CBS News]

Trump sides with white nationalists and praises ‘beautiful’ Confederate statues

President Donald Trump followed up his early morning tweet storm on Thursday by lamenting that Confederate statues are being taken down all across the U.S. and saying it’s “sad.”

“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments,” wrote the president, who has come under the heaviest fire of his administration in recent days over his gross mishandling of the response to the violence in Charlottesville, VA.

He followed up by saying, “You can’t change history, but you can learn from it. Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson – who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!”

And then, “Also the beauty that is being taken out of our cities, towns and parks will be greatly missed and never able to be comparably replaced!”

[Raw Story]

 

Trump Defends White-Nationalist Protesters: ‘Some Very Fine People on Both Sides’

President Trump defended the white nationalists who protested in Charlottesville on Tuesday, saying they included “some very fine people,” while expressing sympathy for their demonstration against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee. It was a strikingly different message from the prepared statement he had delivered on Monday, and a reversion to his initial response over the weekend.

Speaking in the lobby of Trump Tower at what had been billed as a statement on infrastructure, a combative Trump defended his slowness to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis after the melee in central Virginia, which ended in the death of one woman and injuries to dozens of others, and compared the tearing down of Confederate monuments to the hypothetical removal of monuments to the Founding Fathers. He also said that counter-protesters deserve an equal amount of blame for the violence.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at, as you say, at the alt-right?” Trump said. “Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me,” he said.

“You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists,” Trump said. “The press has treated them absolutely unfairly.”

“You also had some very fine people on both sides,” he said.

The “Unite the Right” rally that sparked the violence in Charlottesville featured several leading names in the white-nationalist alt-right movement, and also attracted people displaying Nazi symbols. As they walked down the street, the white-nationalist protesters chanted “blood and soil,” the English translation of a Nazi slogan. One of the men seen marching with the fascist group American Vanguard, James A. Fields, is charged with deliberately ramming a car into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Heyer.

Trump on Tuesday made an explicit comparison between Confederate generals and Founding Fathers such as George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. “Many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” Trump said. “This week, it is Robert E. Lee. And I notice that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder, is it George Washington next? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You know, you have to ask yourself, where does it stop?”

The substance of Trump’s unscripted remarks hewed more closely to his initial reaction to Charlottesville on Saturday, when he blamed “many sides” for what happened. On Monday, after two days of relentless criticism, Trump gave a stronger statement, saying “racism is evil” and specifically condemning white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan, and neo-Nazis. Speaking to reporters shortly afterward, white nationalist Richard Spencer told reporters he didn’t see Trump’s remarks as a condemnation of his movement.

Tuesday’s appearance made it even clearer that those words had been forced on the president. Throughout his campaign, he was reluctant to disavow the white nationalists who have formed a vocal segment of his supporters. Asked if he had spoken to Heyer’s family in the days since her death, Trump said “we will be reaching out.”

Trump also addressed swirling rumors about the status of his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who has come in for another round of speculation this week that his job may be in danger. Trump is reportedly angry about the recent book Devil’s Bargain, by the Bloomberg Businessweek writer Joshua Green, which portrays Bannon as the key reason for Trump’s election victory.

The president defended Bannon as having been unfairly attacked as a racist in the press, but declined to say if he still has confidence in him.

“I like Mr. Bannon, he is a friend of mine,” Trump said. “But Mr. Bannon came on very late. You know that. I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries. Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that. I like him. He is a good man. He is not a racist, I can tell you that. He is a good person. He actually gets very unfair press in that regard. We’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon. But he is a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.”

The remarks echo what Trump told the New York Post earlier this year during a similar moment of uncertainty about Bannon’s position. “I like Steve, but you have to remember he was not involved in my campaign until very late,” Trump told the Post in April.

[The Atlantic]

Reality

These are the “very fine people” Donald Trump is telling us about.

Trump Defends Violent White Supremacists

President Trump’s argument Tuesday that left wing groups were just as violent as the white supremacists who staged a demonstration in Charlottesville set off a firestorm of criticism from members of his own party – and raised questions about his personal views of racial tensions in the country.

Just one day after Trump sought to tamp down on controversy by condemning white supremacists for their role in racially motivated clashes in the Virginia city, the president appeared to return to his highly criticized initial response that many sides were to blame for the weekend violence.

“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right?” Trump told reporters in a chaotic impromptu press conference at Trump Tower. “Do they have any semblance of guilt? What about the fact they came charging with clubs in their hands?”

Trump said he couldn’t make a condemnation of hate groups earlier because he didn’t “know all the facts” about an alleged white nationalist who crashed a car into a crowd of protesters, killing one person and wounded 19 others.

“I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct,” Trump said from Trump Tower in New York, after an event that was intended to be devoted to a new infrastructure executive order.

Trump has been especially quick to denounce previous terrorist attacks, including those taking place overseas. Yet he was notably reticent to pinpoint the blame for one on Saturday that involved white supremacists – a point his critics on both sides of the aisle continued to hammer.

“We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity,” said House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. added: “There is only one side to be on when a white supremacist mob brutalizes and murders in America.”

Several lawmakers were dismayed the president appeared to equate white supremacists with their opponents. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., tweeted: “Blaming ‘both sides’ for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.”

Another Republican, Rep. Charlie Dent from Pennsylvania, said Trump “must stop the moral equivalency! AGAIN.”

Over the weekend, Trump faced heavy criticism from both Republicans and Democrats for chiding “many sides” for their role in the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, a statement many regarded as tepid toward racists.

A full two days later, on Monday, Trump at the White House directly condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and announced the Justice Department would open up a civil rights investigation into the driver of the car that killed Charlottesville resident Heather Heyer.

Yet on Tuesday, amid questions about whether Trump meant the words behind his most recent scripted statement, the president called his initial response “fine” and blamed the press for being dishonest in its coverage.

“There was no way of making a correct statement that early,” he said at one point. “I had to see the facts. Unlike a lot of reporters – I didn’t know (prominent white supremacist) David Duke was there. I wanted to see the facts.”

For his part, former KKK leader Duke tweeted a thank you to the president after his statement Tuesday – for condemning “the leftist terrorists” in Black Lives Matter and Antifa.

Trump also said “not all of those people” who attended the demonstration were not racist or neo-Nazi, but only wanted to protest the city’s plans to remove the Robert E. Lee statue.

That statement also drew catcalls from Republicans. “If you’re showing up to a Klan rally, you’re probably a racist or a bigot,” said Rep. Will Hurd, R-Tex., said on CNN.

And Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted that “the organizers of events” that led to the Charlottesville terror attack “are 100% to blame.”

The white supremacists, Rubio tweeted, are “adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin…. When (there’s an) entire movement built on anger and hatred towards people different than you, it justifies and ultimately leads to violence against them.”

Rubio offered a direct message to Trump: “Mr. President, you can’t allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame… (they) will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected.”

The president was slated to only discuss infrastructure during his appearances, but took questions from reporters for more than 15 minutes, most of them about Charlottesville. Some aides looked dismayed as he answered more questions.

During a rollicking, impromptu news conference in which Trump and reporters frequently argued and interrupted each other, the president also:

  • Questioned moves by local government to remove Confederate statues and monuments from public places

Trump openly wondered whether tributes to George Washington and Thomas Jefferson are at risk because they were slave owners. “You really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?” Trump said. On the other hand, Trump said local governments are free to make their own decisions on these issues.

  • Refused to say whether he thought the “alt-left” were as bad as the white supremacists who organized a demonstration in defense of the Robert E. Lee statue

“You had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent,” Trump said. While Trump said he condemned neo-Nazis, he said “not all of those people” at the rally were neo-Nazis or white supremacists “by any stretch.”

The Anti-Defamation League disputed Trump’s comments, tweeting that “comparisons between white supremacists & counter protesters are beyond the pale.”

  • Distanced himself from chief strategist Steve Bannon, whose role has been in the spotlight after the Charlottesville violence

Trump cast the former chief executive of his 2016 campaign as a late-comer to his cadre of advisers and expressed uncertainty about his fate at the White House. “Mr. Bannon came on very late,” Trump told reporters. “I like him, he’s a good man, he is not a racist, I can tell you that. But we’ll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.”

  • Refused to answer a question on why self-proclaimed Nazis say they support him

“They don’t,” Trump responded.

  • Said he had a plan to the nation’s racial divide

That plan involves creating more – and better – jobs.

Trump’s remarks left many on Twitter expressing concerns he is too soft on racists and bigots.

“If you are still defending Donald Trump at this point, you are not a good person,” tweeted Jill Biden, the wife of former Vice President Joe Biden.

The news conference capped a day in which Trump returned to his residence in the gold-leaf comfort of Trump Tower for the first time since he took office in January – but it hasn’t been a particularly joyful homecoming.

Amid rush hour, after the rain, protestors returned to Fifth Avenue with bullhorns and placards in hand to protest Trump’s views of race, immigration, and other issues. “New York hates you,” read one sign. Police placed a protest area about a block-and-a-half from Trump Tower.

Trump huddled with staff and signed an executive order on infrastructure Tuesday – at a podium affixed with the presidential seal in front of the elevator bank – that did little to change the conversation.

The infrastructure announcement – intended to streamline the permitting process for infrastructure projects – is part of Trump’s ongoing effort to try and toll back federal regulations that he says undermine economic development. Many of the targeted regulations involve environmental restrictions.

Yet even as Trump heralded the order as a way to promote jobs, business leaders within his circle appeared to be more focused on the president’s response to Charlottesville.

So far, five senior leaders from president’s business council have stepped down amid criticism that Trump was too slow to directly condemn violence involving white supremacists.

After his press conference, another member of his council – Richard Trumka, president of the The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations – announced he would step down. “I cannot sit on a council for a President that tolerates bigotry and domestic terrorism; I resign, effective immediately,” tweeted Trumka.

Activists are continuing to pressure remaining members to follow suit.

“No adviser committed to the bipartisan American traditions of government can possibly believe he or she is being effective at this point,” tweeted Lawrence Summers, a former high-level economic adviser to Democratic presidents Bill Clinton and Barack Obama.

Yet Trump has done little to stem the controversy. Hours after making a formal statement Monday denouncing those who perpetuate racially-motivated attacks, Trump returned Monday night to a usual line of criticism: the press. “Made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!”

Trump stirred up more Twitter trouble after that. In the leadup to his press conference Tuesday, he retweeted a prominent figure from the alt-right  who pushed the “Pizzagate” and Seth Rich conspiracy theories, who questioned why there was no similar outrage over violence in Chicago.

He tweeted then retweeted and deleted a post that included the cartoon of a train – the “Trump train” running over a CNN reporter, an image that drew criticism in the wake of the deadly car ramming incident in Virginia.

Steady rain in midtown Manhattan kept away many protesters Tuesday – as did a heavy security perimeter that included a line of white sanitation trucks parked along Fifth Avenue, flanking the entrance to Trump Tower.

Trump is expected to return to his 17-day working vacation at his golf club in Beminster, N.J.,  on Wednesday.

[USA Today]

Reality

Donald Trump backtracked against his statement a day ago and defended violent white supremacists, arguing people on the left, called the “alt-left”, are just as violent.

First, no-one uses the term “alt-left” except super-right-wing nutjobs like Sean Hannity and Richard Spencer, as a slur against everyone who isn’t their type of conservative.
(See: http://www.foxnews.com/transcript/2016/11/14/why-are-media-struggling-to-accept-trump-win-inside-trump-strategy-to-defeat.html)

Second, standing up to intolerance is not intolerance.

While there was a handful of a “anti-fascists” which use violent tactics were in attendance, most of the protesters at Charlottsville were peaceful protesters. The hours of videos at the rally absolutely proves this.

When the white supremacists arrived they were carrying shields, clubs, knives, and military-grade guns, and marched in military maneuvers as if they practiced for violent encounters.

Also, white supremacists killed a woman and critically injured over a dozen more when a car drove into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Media

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