Donald Trump and his allies are trying to rewrite the history of Charlottesville - 2020-09-03
It was one of the defining moments of Donald Trump's presidency. On August 15, 2017, three days after a white supremacist drove a car into a crowd of counterprotesters at the Unite the Right rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer, Trump held a press conference in the lobby of his New York City tower.
He started off okay, reiterating "in the strongest possible terms" his condemnation of "this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence." But as the press conference continued, Trump's impulse to defend the rally's participants and reapportion blame onto political critics won out. "You had some very bad people in that group," Trump said, at one point, of the white supremacist protest. "But you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides," he continued, thus equating a racist mob with people who showed up to protest a racist mob. In case there was any ambiguity, Trump spelled it out a few minutes later: "You had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest," he said, adding: "There are two sides to a story."
Trump was rebuked by Republican House and Senate leaders (though not always by name), foreign heads of state, and his chief economics adviser. On Fox News' The Five, conservative talking head Greg Gutfeld called Trump's remarks "pure ignorance." That was then. Three years later, Trump's "very fine people" moment has become foundational to the Biden campaign's message that the "soul of the nation" is in peril, and Trump and his supporters have settled on a different line: They argue that Trump simply never said what he said about Charlottesville.