When the White House has to tell fellow Republicans what the president said the day after he said it, you can pretty well bet things didn’t go well.
Tuesday’s press conference, held to announce President Donald Trump’s executive order reforming the infrastructure permitting process, almost immediately degenerated into a rancorous back-and-forth on race relations in America.
With few exceptions, everything the president said was correct — but the manner and timing of what he said created an instant firestorm.
Trump reiterated comments he’d made Saturday, calling both sides to account for a clash of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one person dead at the hands of a white supremacist and multiple others injured.
One side of the fracas included Ku Klux Klan members and neo-Nazis; the other was comprised of Black Lives Matter and Antifa protesters.
“They didn’t put themselves down as neo-Nazis,” Trump said. “And you had some very bad people in that group. But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides.”
He reiterated this several times during the press briefing.
Although it’s probably true that there were “very fine people on both sides” of the ensuing riot, the president’s critics latched onto it as a “good Nazi and KKK member” statement.
Assigning blame to both sides also disregarded the fact that the single death resulting from the fracas was caused by a white supremacist.
The White House communications office went into damage control Tuesday evening, and sent GOP lawmakers a lengthy set of talking points, reminding his supporters what was said that day and asserting that "the president was entirely correct."
But being “entirely correct” isn’t the point.
Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer called the president’s remarks a “moral disgrace” Tuesday evening on Fox News Channel’s “Special Report.”
“What Trump is missing here is the uniqueness of white supremacy, KKK, and Nazism,” he said. “Yes, there were bad guys on both sides. That’s not the point. This was instigated, instituted — the riot began over a Nazi riot, a Nazi rally. And the only killing here occurred by one of the pro-Nazi, pro-KKK people.”
Former Republican National Committee (RNC) communications director Douglas Heye believed it could be serious enough to adversely affect the 2018 midterm elections.
"After that Trump press conference, I don't know how I can tell any minority why they should vote Republican," Heye said in a tweet.
"I've asked the press offices at both the White House and RNC to remove me from their email lists," he added.
We elect presidents not only to direct the ship of state, but also to bring the country together. Former President Barack Obama failed at this in his administration. Trump isn’t doing any better.
The White House announced Wednesday that Hope Hicks will be the new interim communications director.
Let’s hope that she does a better job of keeping Trump on message than what has been done in the past.
Michael Dorstewitz is a retired lawyer and has been a frequent contributor to BizPac Review and Liberty Unyielding. He’s also a former U.S. Merchant Marine officer and an enthusiastic Second Amendment supporter, who can often be found honing his skills at the range. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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