Are Republican Lawmakers Turning Against President Donald Trump?

Pablo Martinez MonsivaisPablo Martinez Monsivais

In an unprecedented move, a long list of Republican lawmakers have come out to condemn President Donald Trump’s response to the deadly protest in Charlottesville last weekend.

The coterie includes House Speaker Paul Ryan, Senators Marco Rubio, Todd Young, John McCain, Jeff Flake, Orrin Hatch, as well as Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, Will Hurd, Darrell Issa, Steve Stivers, and Justin Amash, to name a few.

Republican lawmakers seem to be dissatisfied with the way in which President Trump handled the aftermath of the nationwide protests that began, specifically, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, August 12.

During a press conference held at Trump Tower on Tuesday, the president lashed out at participants in the protest – which saw dozens of people injured and one woman killed after a self-ascribed Nazi supporter rammed into a crowd – saying that he believed both the alt-right and, what Trump uniquely referred to as the “alt-left,” were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville.

“You see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and the baseball bats. What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?”

President Trump asserted that “I do think there’s blame on both sides,” and then bafflingly went on to say that he believes there were “very fine people” amongst the white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups who were protesting against the city’s planned removal of a statue of Confederate leader, General Robert E. Lee.

“Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue. You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.”

For many members of the conservative right, Trump’s statement drew a false equivalence between white supremacists and liberal counter-protesters, as reported by the Daily Mail.

Tea Party Republican Justin Amash from Michigan quickly responded to Trump’s assertions by tweeting that anti-Semitic and racist chants disqualify protesters as “very fine people.”

Soon after, Republican Senators also began issuing statements that berated Trump for his moral ambiguity in response to the violent protests.

Florida Republican Sen. Marco Rubio warned Trump of the precariousness of suggesting that anti-white supremacist demonstrators were equally to blame for the Charlottesville clashes.

Senators John McCain and Jeff Flake, both from Arizona, as well as Indiana Senator Todd Young, added their own thoughts to the foray of denouncement by President Trump’s party.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Paul Ryan was careful not to finger Trump directly while tweeting a statement. Ryan did, however, agree with the president’s condemnation of neo-Nazis and white nationalists, specifically.

Mr. Ryan’s colleagues in the House of Representatives followed suit and tweeted were not as shy to point directly at Trump while denouncing his utterances.

Republican Rep. Will Hurd appeared on CNN when he urged President Trump to “apologize” for his ambiguous tone when he commented on the Charlottesville violence.

“Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism of any form is unacceptable. The leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”

Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism of any form is unacceptable,' Hurd said. 'The leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that
Rep. Will Hurd told CNN that he had a single word of advice for Trump: 'Apologize.' [Image by Andrew Harnik/AP Images]Featured image credit: Andrew HarnikAndrew Harnik

Despite the outcry from Republican on Capitol Hill, the White House issued a memo that was circulated amongst members of Congress. The memo stated that the president was “entirely correct” when he blamed “both sides” for the tragic events in Charlottesville.

“Both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.”

According to the White House, Trump was not tardy in openly condemning white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups. Moreover, the memo asserts that there was “no ambiguity” in the president’s statement, and praises Trump for being “a voice for unity and calm.”

The White House also used the memo to urge members of the media to “join the president in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division.”

Nevertheless, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly seemed to be less enthusiastic about the president’s opinions on the protests. During the press conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday, Kelly looked demure and reticent while the president spoke.

Officials working with Chief of Staff Kelly said that many in the West Wing were caught off guard when Trump veered off script and “went rogue” during his briefing with the media.

Newly installed White House Chief of Staff John Kelly hunched his shoulders, crossed his arms, and stood stony-faced while his boss, President Donald Trump, went on a bizarre rant Tuesday
White House Chief of Staff John Kelly turns around and begins to walk away as President Donald Trump stops to speak to members of the media in the lobby of Trump Tower. [Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]Featured image credit: Pablo Martinez MonsivaisPablo Martinez Monsivais

Elsewhere, prominent leaders of the alt-rights, the Ku Klux Klan, and conservative commentators showed support for the Republican president’s handling of the situation.

Among them were former-KKK leader David Duke, Richard B. Spencer, and Ann Coulter, who unanimously praised Trump for the way in which he responded to the Charlottesville violence.

[Featured Image by Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP Images]