Trump calls out 'alt-left,' blames 'both sides' for Charlottesville violence

NEW YORK, Aug 15 (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump insisted on Tuesday that not all of the facts were known yet about the aftermath of a white supremacist rally in Virginia that turned violent at the weekend and that both left- and right-wing groups used force.

Trump, taking questions from reporters in the lobby of Trump Tower in New York, reverted to his initial comments on Saturday blaming "many sides" for the violence in Charlottesville, but on Monday had explicitly condemned neo-Nazi groups.

"They came at each other with clubs ... it was a horrible thing to watch," Trump told reporters at what was supposed to be an announcement of his administration's infrastructure policy. He said "alt-left" protesters "came violently attacking the other group."

Reactions to Trump's comments: 

27 PHOTOS
Reactions to President Trump's remarks on Aug. 15
See Gallery
Reactions to President Trump's remarks on Aug. 15
We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.
Race-based supremacy movements have no place in our melting pot culture. #Charlottesville
No, not the same. One side is racist, bigoted, Nazi. The other opposes racism and bigotry. Morally different universes.
I haven't seen anything that crazy since Tyson bit Holyfield @realDonaldTrump
As a Jew, as an American, as a human, words cannot express my disgust and disappointment. This is not my President.
Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist… https://t.co/7LxWB0FaWi
Let's get real. https://t.co/vM8gJ8lWrc
Good time to re-up https://t.co/RZ24UhKtDw
Mr. President,you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame.They support idea which cost nation & world so much pain 5/6
Our full statement on @POTUS' racist and Antisemitic fright-show news conference just now: https://t.co/EDvKwS2TeJ
President @realDonaldTrump once again denounced hate today. The GOP stands behind his message of love and inclusiveness!
Trump:"George Washington was a slave owner…so will George Washington now lose his status…how about Thomas Jefferson" #Charlottesville
Blaming "both sides" for #Charlottesville?! No. Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no.
Mr. President, there is only one side: AGAINST white supremacists, neo-Nazis, anti-Semites & the KKK. They have no place in America or GOP.
The president just erased yesterday's speech and is now back to Saturday's position on Charlottesville. Unbelievable.
"Very fine people" do not participate in rallies with groups chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and displaying vile symbols of hate.
So, there you have it. Trump defends the Confederacy.
This press conference is a train wreck. Trump is defending the alt-right & Confederate statues. Doubles down & blames "both sides" #Shame
Trump: "What about the alt-left? The alt-left" was responsible for some of the violence in Charlottesville. "Nobody wants to say that."
Trump: Raising wages will help improve race relations. #trump
Takeaways from Trump's comments now: 1. There is blame on both sides 2. He hasn't called the victim's family 3. He owns a very large winery
Trump:"[People protesting white supremacists] came without a permit and attacked that group [white supremacists]. Bad people on both sides."
"We should never hesitate to call out hate. Whenever and wherever we see it." -OGH https://t.co/Zy2YaJwFlV… https://t.co/yncx1VPbER
George Washington is to Robert E. Lee as Barack Obama is to Donald J. Trump
Trump's crime today was not lying enough.
Trump dropped that "George Washington had slaves" reveal like he really had some good tea congrats on passing third grade
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Trump has faced a storm of criticism from Democrats and members of his own Republican Party over his initial response to the violence around the rally in the Southern college town of Charlottesville.

The trouble erupted after hundreds of white nationalists converged in Charlottesville to protest plans to remove a statue of General Robert E. Lee, commander of the pro-slavery Confederate army in the U.S. Civil War.

Street brawls broke out as the white nationalists were met by crowds of anti-racism demonstrators. A car then plowed into a group of the counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people. A 20-year-old Ohio man, James Fields, said to have harbored Nazi sympathies, was charged with murder, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.

On Tuesday, Trump explained his initial restrained response by saying: "The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement, but you don't make statements that direct unless you know the facts. It takes a little while to get the facts." Trump earlier Tuesday hit back at business leaders who quit a presidential advisory panel in protest, calling the executives "grandstanders."

RELATED: Images from the Charlottesville protest

19 PHOTOS
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
See Gallery
White nationalist protesters lead 'Nazi-esque' rally in Charlottesville
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Protesters direct obscene gestures towards members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in support of Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters shout at members of the Ku Klux Klan, who are rallying in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Members of the Ku Klux Klan face counter-protesters as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A counter-protester is detained as members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police detain a counter-protester during the aftermath of a rally by members of the Ku Klux Klan in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Counter-protesters help a man affected by pepper gas as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Police, clergy and free speech observers protect a man wearing a Confederate flag as a cape after he was surrounded by counter-protesters prior to the arrival of members of the Ku Klux Klan to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Riot police protect members of the Ku Klux Klan from counter-protesters as they arrive to rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst TEMPLATE OUT
Counter-protesters lock arms in the middle of a street as police try to disperse them, after members of the Ku Klux Klan rallied in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan rally in opposition to city proposals to remove or make changes to Confederate monuments, such as the statue of General Stonewall Jackson above them, in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
Members of the Ku Klux Klan, standing near a tomato and and an orange that had been thrown at them by counter-protesters, hold a sign as they rally in support of Confederate monuments in Charlottesville, Virginia, U.S. July 8, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
HIDE CAPTION
SHOW CAPTION
of
SEE ALL
BACK TO SLIDE

Three business leaders quit a Trump panel in protest on Monday and on Tuesday, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said on Twitter he was also resigning.

Trump bowed on Monday to two days of pressure for a more forceful response, singling out groups behind the "Unite the Right" rally that were widely seen as stoking the disturbances. But he was still clearly frustrated over the reaction to his response.

"For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. JOBS!" Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday.

(AOL News contributed to this report; Reporting by Jeff Mason in New York, Susan Heavey in Washington and Scott Malone in Charlottesville, Virginia; Writing by Grant McCool; Editing by Frances Kerry and Lisa Shumaker)

Read Full Story

Sign up for Breaking News by AOL to get the latest breaking news alerts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.

Subscribe to our other newsletters

Emails may offer personalized content or ads. Learn more. You may unsubscribe any time.