In the main lobby of Trump Tower in New York City, the president grew combative after a throng of reporters started shouting questions about why he "waited" to specifically condemn neo-Nazis and white nationalists.
An attorney for President Donald Trump forwarded an email to conservative media and government officials that said Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee "is no different than" President George Washington, and which claims the Black Lives Matter movement is "infiltrated by terrorist groups". Tell people who admire George Washington despite his slaveholding that they're racists for doing so and they'll decide, "Okay". What do you think of Thomas Jefferson? "If 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", Trump said.
Assemblyman Dov Hikind wants to remove two concrete markers honoring French World War I heroes who ended up collaborating with the Nazis in World War II.
The nation that George Washington fathered certainly could use some of that. Though there are legends he was more fair to his slaves than some men, Smithsonian magazine recently reported that the president once used a loophole to keep his slaves when he moved to Philadelphia. Washington was a slave owner, yes, but the meaning of a Washington statue is not necessarily pro-slavery or pro-white supremacy - whereas that's exactly the point of the vast majority of Confederate memorials in the United States.
George Washington was a slave-owner.
He also complained that taking down Confederate statues is "changing history" and "changing culture".
Trump said while he condemned the neo-Nazi elements of the protest, some protesters were there for acceptable purposes. Are we going to take down-are we going to take down statues of George Washington?
And so for Trump to argue that taking down Confederate statues would mean taking down monuments to Jefferson makes no sense. You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?. And while their public memories should include the fact that they owned slaves-I think it should be pretty central to how we remember them-in terms of memorializing there is material for creating a broad narrative that everyone can buy into. The Prez made the bold comparison between Lee and GW - who also owned slaves - asking if Washington's statues were fair game for removal too.
Let's also understand what we celebrate when we put statues on pedestals. "Frankly, people still don't know all of the facts".
Trump repeatedly equated neo-Nazis and the "alt-left" during the press conference and added that there were "two sides to the story". "At the end of the day", she said, these CEOs "have to answer to the people who buy their products".
"The press has treated them absolutely unfairly", he said of those folks that support the monuments staying where they are. "You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent".
In rebuking Trump, both Presidents Bush invoked Jefferson's great words in the Declaration of Independence.
Ulysses S. Grant, the general who defeated him, gave the best epitaph of Lee, saying the Confederate general "had fought so long and valiantly, and had suffered so much for a cause, though that cause was, I believe, one of the worst for which a people ever fought". "You had a group on one side and the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and awful".