Donald Trump defended the controversial comments he made about the Charlottesville rally in which one counterprotester lost her life. The president’s defense comes a day after former Vice President Joe Biden called him out for what appeared to be support for the white supremacist gathering.
While leaving the White House to head to a National Rifle Association meeting in Indianapolis, Politico reports that Trump spoke to reporters about the comments he made in August 2017. At the time, the president said that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the rally and there was blame “on both sides.”
“If you look at what I said you will see that that question was answered perfectly,” Trump said. “I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general.”
“Whether you like it or not, he was one of the great generals,” Trump added. “People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.”
Trump’s comments drew intense backlash after a “Unite the Right” rally turned violent, killing Heather Heyer, who was there to protest the rally. James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing Heyer and injuring others.
The situation is back in the spotlight after Biden used the incident as a focus for his campaign announcement video.
“With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,” Biden said. “And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime.”
Trump just took a question on the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville.— Christina Wilkie (@christinawilkie) April 26, 2019
"People were there protesting the taking down of the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general, everybody knows that," Trump says. pic.twitter.com/nfbisMMSOC
Biden announced that he was running for president in 2020 on Thursday and placed himself in the role of a counterbalance to Trump, according to CNN. His tactic is different than most of the other candidates who are running against Trump, most of whom have ignored the president and have chosen to focus on their own policies instead.
But Biden believes that the country needs someone who will stand up against what he sees as abuses by the Trump administration.
It isn’t the first time that Biden has taken Trump to task for his comments about the Charlottesville rally. In August 2017, Biden wrote a piece for The Atlantic saying that the country had reached a point where the “soul” of the nation was at stake. He criticized the president for supporting neo-Nazis and other white supremacists. He called on the nation to rally against the hateful message coming from the president and appears poised to stake his campaign on that message.