Before he left for Indianapolis to speak at the NRA convention, President Donald Trump took questions from reporters as he was preparing to board Marine One. He was asked about comments made by former Vice President Joe Biden regarding Trump saying there were “very fine people” among the neo-Nazis who marched in Charlottesville chanting “Jews will not replace us!” in August of 2017.
But rather than back away from his controversial remarks, Trump doubled down:
“I’ve answered that question. If you look at what I said you will see that question was answered perfectly. And 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. I’ve spoken to many generals right here at the White House and many people thought of the generals they think he was maybe their favorite general. People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee. Everybody knows that.”
Here’s what Trump actually said at the time:
“But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides. You had people in that group – excuse me, excuse me. I saw the same pictures as you did. You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down, of to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.”
However, there was no denunciation of the neo-Nazis per se, and Trump knows that. As a matter of fact, Trump even reiterated his “fine people” comment seconds later back in 2017:
“I do think there is blame – yes, I think there is blame on both sides. You look at, you look at both sides. I think there’s blame on both sides, and I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either. And, and, and, and if you reported it accurately, you would say.”
Biden called it perfectly when he had this to say Thursday about Trump’s “very fine people” comments:
“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. And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime.”
And that threat must be defeated at the ballot box come 2020.