Jeff Sessions strays from prepared remarks to praise ‘Anglo-American heritage’ of sheriffs

Update

Jeff Sessions was using a legal technical term “Anglo-American” law, which is a reference to the legal tradition of common law that the American sheriff’s system shares with England.


Attorney General Jeff Sessions strayed from his prepared remarks to comment on the “Anglo-American” historical origins of the sheriff.

Sessions spoke Monday to a the National Sheriffs Association, which represents about 20,000 law enforcement officials across the U.S., but video recordings show an apparent improvisation from the prepared remarks distributed ahead of time to reporters, according to Splinter News.

“The office of sheriff is a critical part of the Anglo-American heritage of law enforcement,” Sessions said. “We must never erode this historic office.”

The remarks quickly raised eyebrows on social media, where commenters perceived the reference as racist in light of the attorney general’s racially problematic history.

The sheriff indeed originated in medieval England, and the name derives from Anglo-Saxon words for the guardian, or reeve, of a county, or shire.

English colonists brought the tradition to America and elected their own sheriffs in the 1600s, and various right-wing fringe movements promote the legal fallacy that county sheriffs are the highest law enforcement officers in the United States.

[RawStory]

Media

Trump referred to Haiti and African countries as ‘shithole’ nations

President Donald Trump on Thursday referred to Haiti and African nations as “shithole countries” during a meeting with a bipartisan group of senators at the White House, a Democratic aide briefed on the meeting told NBC News.

Trump’s comments were first reported by The Washington Post, which said the group of nations referred to also included El Salvador.

The comments came as senators huddled in the Oval Office with the president to discuss a path forward on an immigration deal. Trump questioned why the United States would want people from nations such as Haiti while he was being briefed on changes to the visa lottery system.

According to the aide, when the group came to discussing immigration from Africa, Trump asked why America would want immigrants from “all these shithole countries” and that the U.S. should have more people coming in from places like Norway. Thursday’s meeting came one day after Trump met with Norwegian Prime Minister Erna Solberg at the White House.

A source familiar with Thursday’s meeting told NBC News the president was particularly frustrated during discussions about the visa lottery system — a program Trump has railed against repeatedly in recent months.

The White House issued a statement that did not deny the remarks.

“Certain Washington politicians choose to fight for foreign countries, but President Trump will always fight for the American people,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Raj Shah told NBC Thursday, as part of a lengthy statement that did not directly dispute the language reportedly used in the meeting.

“He will always reject temporary, weak and dangerous stopgap measures that threaten the lives of hardworking Americans, and undercut immigrants who seek a better life in the United States through a legal pathway.”

It’s not the first time reports have surfaced of Trump speaking unfavorably about immigrants, and Haitians in particular. The New York Times reported in December that Trump said Haitian immigrants “all have AIDS,” during a summer 2017 meeting about immigration.

According to the Times, Trump also targeted Nigerian immigrants during that meeting, complaining that once they came the United States they would never “go back to their huts.” The White House vigorously denied the claims in the story at the time.

[NBC News]

CDC banned from using ‘evidence-based’ and ‘science-based’ on official documents

The Trump administration has reportedly banned the Centers for Disease Control from using the phrases “evidence-based” and “science-based” on official documents.

Senior CDC officials distributed the list of “forbidden” words and phrases to policy analysts at the CDC on Thursday, the Washington Post reported Friday. The list also bans the use of “vulnerable,” “entitlement,” “diversity,” “transgender” and “fetus.”

Analysts are reportedly prohibited from using the phrases on official documents they prepare for the 2019 budget, which is expected to be released in February.

An analyst who attended the meeting at the CDC in Atlanta told the Washington Post that instead of “evidence-based” or “science-based,” policy analysts are instructed to use the phrase, “CDC bases its recommendations on science in consideration with community standards and wishes.”

The analyst told the Post that other branches of President Trump’s health department are likely adhering to the same list of banned words. The source said that others at the meeting reacted with surprise when given the list.

“It was very much, ‘Are you serious? Are you kidding?’” the analyst said, “In my experience, we’ve never had any pushback from an ideological standpoint.”

The Trump administration has been repeatedly scrutinized for declining to acknowledge science-based findings, particularly related to climate change. Trump himself has not said whether he believes in climate science, and numerous members of his administration and his appointees have denied aspects of scientific consensus related to global warming.

[The Hill]

Trump administration lawyers claims the KKK is a protected class

In the circus surrounding the Masterpiece Bakeshop case, in which a Colorado baker refused to serve gay customers, lost a discrimination case and then appealed it all the way to the Supreme Court, a strange tidbit emerged yesterday. In explaining why Jack Phillips, the bakery’s owner, should not be compelled to serve people whose lifestyles go against his religious beliefs, Solicitor General Noel Francisco kept saying that a black sculptor should not be compelled to make art for the Ku Klux Klan.

As Imani Gandy at Rewire pointed out Wednesday, Francisco, who serves as the government’s lawyer, got at least one half of his argument right — no lawyer could successfully argue that it’s discriminatory for an African-American artist to deny service to a KKK member. But that’s because, unlike LGBTQ people, KKK members are not members of a “protected class.”

“The anti-discrimination law doesn’t require every business to serve every person on the planet,” Gandy wrote. “It merely requires that a business not refuse service based on a person’s protected characteristic.”

Under Colorado’s anti-discrimination law, “places of public accommodation” like businesses, restaurants, stores and hotels are not permitted to refuse service to someone based on protected characteristics. Those characteristics include “disability, race, creed, color, sex, sexual orientation, marital status, national origin and ancestry.”

“A protected or ‘suspect’ class,” she continued, “is made up of ‘discrete and insular minorities’: a group of people who have historically been subjected to discrimination, comprise a discrete minority (meaning there aren’t a lot of them, percentage-wise), and have immutable characteristics (meaning characteristics that cannot be changed).

Being a member of the Klan or other bigoted groups is not unchangeable, nor does it subject one to historic discrimination (no matter what racist right-wingers would have you believe).

[RawStory]

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 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 Lashes Out at Sen. Lindsey Graham For Comments on Charlottesville

President Donald Trump lashed out at Sen. Lindsey Graham on Thursday morning, claiming the Republican from South Carolina falsely stated his words about violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In a tweet on Thursday, Trump said “publicity seeking” Graham incorrectly stated that the president said “there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists. … and people like Ms. Heyer.”

Trump Lashes Out at Sen. Lindsey Graham For Comments on Charlottesville

Heather Heyer was killed after she was struck by a car driven into a crowd of people who were protesting a white nationalist rally in Virginia.

In a statement on Wednesday, Graham said Trump “took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency.”

Trump on Monday explicitly condemned white supremacists and “racist” violence, two days after he condemned hatred and violence “on many sides” without specifically denouncing white supremacist groups.

At a heated news conference on Tuesday, Trump doubled down on his initial response, blaming “both sides” for the violence.

[CNBC]

Reality

By claiming both sides were to blame for violence at the Unite the Right rally, Trump made a moral equivalence between Nazis and their protesters.

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

Trump – Once Again – Fails to Condemn White Supremacists

President Donald Trump, a man known for his bluntness, was anything but on Saturday, failing to name the white supremacists or alt-right groups at the center of violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Instead, the man whose vicious attacks against Hillary Clinton, John McCain, federal judges, fellow Republican leaders and journalists helped define him both in and out of the White House simply blamed “many sides.”

Trump stepped to the podium at his New Jersey golf resort and read a statement on the clashes, pinning the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. “It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama,” he said. “It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

Fellow Republicans slammed Trump’s lack of directness and attempt to inject moral equivalence into the situation of chaos and terror.

“We should call evil by its name,” tweeted Utah Sen. Orrin Hatch, the most senior Republican in the Senate. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”

“Very important for the nation to hear @POTUS describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists,” tweeted Sen. Marco Rubio, a competitor for the 2016 GOP presidential nomination.

“Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” tweeted Sen. Cory Gardner, a Colorado Republican.

Scott Jennings, a former special assistant to President George W. Bush, said Trump’s speech was not his “best effort,” and faulted the President for “failure to acknowledge the racism, failure to acknowledge the white supremacy, failure to acknowledge the people who are marching around with Nazi flags on American soil.”

In his decades of public life, Trump has never been one to hold back his thoughts, and that has continued in the White House, where in his seven months as President it has become clear that he views conflicts as primarily black-and-white.

Trump’s Twitter account has become synonymous for blunt burns, regularly using someone’s name when he feels they slighted him or let him down. Trump, in just the last week, has used his Twitter account to call out Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell by name, charge Democratic Sen. Richard Blumenthal with crying “like a baby” and needle media outlets by name.

His campaign was defined by his direct attacks. He pointedly attacked Khizr Khan, the father of a Muslim U.S. soldier killed in Iraq in 2004, for his speech at the Democratic National Committee that challenged his understanding of the Constitution, suggested federal Judge Gonzalo P. Curiel was unable to be impartial because of his Mexican heritage and said in a CNN interview that Fox News’ Megyn Kelly had “blood coming out of her wherever” after she questioned him at a debate.

Even before Trump was a presidential candidate, he was driven by a guiding principle imparted on him by Roy Cohn, his lawyer-turned-mentor: “If they screw you, screw them back 10 times as hard.”

“What happens is they hit me and I hit them back harder,” he told Fox News in 2016. “That’s what we want to lead the country.”

Criticized others for not quickly calling attacks ‘terrorism’

On Saturday at his Bedminster resort, Trump’s bluntness gave way to vagueness as he failed to mention the impetus behind the violence that left at least one person dead in the streets of Charlottesville.

In doing so, Trump left it to anonymous White House officials to explain his remarks, leaving the door open to questions about his sincerity and why he won’t talk about the racists at the heart of the protests.

“The President was condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides,” a White House official said. “There was violence between protesters and counter protesters today.”

By being equivocal, Trump also failed to follow the same self-proclaimed rules he used to hammer other politicians.

Trump constantly slammed Obama and Clinton during his run for the presidency for failing to label terrorist attacks as such. He called out the two Democrats for failing to use the term “radical Islamic terrorism.”

“These are radical Islamic terrorists and she won’t even mention the word, and nor will President Obama,” Trump said during an October 9 presidential debate. “Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name.”
Trump declined to do just that on Saturday, as video of white nationalists flooded TV screens across the country hours after a smaller group marched through Charlottesville at night holding tiki torches and chanted, “You will not replace us.”

Instead, Trump called for “a swift restoration of law and order” and said the federal government was “ready, willing and able” to provide “whatever other assistance is needed.” He saluted law enforcement for their response and said he spoke with Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Democrat, about the attack.

But the businessman-turned-president also touted his own economic achievements during his brief speech, mentioning employment numbers and recent companies that decided to relocate to the United States.

“We have so many incredible things happening in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it is very, very sad,” he said.

White nationalists tie themselves to Trump

The reality for Trump is that his presidency helped white nationalists gain national attention, with groups drafting off his insurgent candidacy by tying themselves to the President and everything he stood for.

After the election, in a November 2016 interview with The New York Times, Trump disavowed the movement and said he did not intend to energize the alt-right.

“I don’t want to energize the group, and I disavow the group,” Trump told a group of Times reporters and columnists during a meeting at the newspaper’s headquarters in New York.

He added: “It’s not a group I want to energize, and if they are energized, I want to look into it and find out why.”

But men like David Duke, possibly the most famous white nationalist, directly tied Saturday’s protests to Trump.

“We are determined to take this country back. We’re gonna fulfill the promises of Donald Trump,” Duke said in an interview with The Indianapolis Star on Saturday in Charlottesville. “That’s why we voted for Donald Trump because he said he’s going to take our country back.”

When Trump tweeted earlier on Saturday that everyone “must be united & condemn all that hate stands for,” Duke grew angry, feeling that the man who help bring white nationalist to this point was slamming them. He urged Trump — via Twitter — to “take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists.”

Though earlier in the day Trump billed Saturday’s event as a press conference, the President declined to respond to shouted question that would have allowed him to directly take on white nationalists.

“Mr. President, do you want the support of these white nationalist groups who say they support you, Mr. President? Have you denounced them strongly enough,” one reporter shouted.

“A car plowing into people, would you call that terrorism sir?” another asked.
Trump walked out of the room.

[CNN]

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