THE WEEK IN TRUMP
- Charlottesville: Hundreds of protestors, including Klan members, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, marched with tiki torches to protest removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. There were chants of “blood and soil,” “You will not replace us,” and “Jews will not replace us.” The next day, “antifa” counter-protesters clashed with the protesters—it’s unclear which side initiated the violence—and police declared the assembly unlawful. That afternoon, a white supremacist drove his car into a crowd of counterprotesters, killing one person and injuring 19. His allies claimed the incident was triggered by counterprotestors’ descending on his car.
- Trump reacts: Trump condemned “this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He was widely criticized for seeming to suggest moral equivalence between white supremacists and the counterprotesters, and multiple CEOs resigned from White House advisory councils, leading to the disbanding of those groups. Trump then said in a combative press conference that “not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch,” and that there were “very fine people on both sides.” He criticized the “alt-left” for violence at the rally.
- After-effects: A crowd of protesters pulled down a Confederate monument in Durham, North Carolina. Arrests were made. An NBC/PBS News Hour/Marist poll found that 62 percent of American adults believe statues honoring confederate leaders should “remain as a historical symbol”.
- Barcelona: A van driver in Barcelona killed 13 people. The attack, claimed by ISIS, prompted Trump to tweet: “Study what General Pershing of the United States did to terrorists when caught. There was no more Radical Islamic Terror for 35 years!” This is a reference to a false story about Pershing soaking bullets in pigs’ blood to put down an Islamic insurgency in the Philippines.
- Bye-Bye Bannon: Friday saw the exodus of White House strategist Steve Bannon, who reportedly had incurred the enmity of such White House aides as Jared Kushner, John Kelly, and H.R. McMaster. Ironically, the departure of Bannon, long identified as an ethno-nationalist, came the week Trump was seen as speaking sympathetically of the white nationalists in Charlottesville. Some aides who favored the ouster of Bannon are said to have blamed him for encouraging this kind of reaction from Trump.