Many white nationalists have been praising President Trump after he doubled-down on blaming “both sides” in the deadly Charlottesville protests.
“What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, alt-right? Do they have any semblance of guilt?” Trump asked reporters in an explosive press conference Tuesday. “What about the fact they came charging with clubs in hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
The remarks were widely panned as an endorsement of white supremacy following the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, but were embraced by some racist hate groups.
“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists,” tweeted former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
Baked Alaska, another far-right-wing activist, thanked Trump for “condemning the alt-left antifa [anti-fascist] thugs who attacked us in Charlottesville.”
Members of Trump’s staff told NBC News they were stunned by the direction the president took at the press conference, which was supposed to focus on infrastructure, a day after the White House had quelled the controversy over Trump’s initial response to the protests.
After reacting to critics on Monday who argued he didn’t take a strong enough stance the first time, Trump doubled down a day later on his insistence that both the white nationalists and the counter-protesters shared responsibility for the violence over the weekend.