President Donald Trump maintained Thursday his controversial position that people on both sides of the deadly Charlottesville clashes were at fault, one day after meeting with the lone African-American Senate Republican who publicly condemned him over it.
Asked about the meeting with South Carolina Sen. Tim Scott, the President told reporters on Air Force One that many people have said he had a point when he remarked that there was “blame on both sides.”
“We had a great talk yesterday,” Trump said of his meeting with Scott. “I think especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there. You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said. Now, because of what’s happened since then with Antifa — you look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying and people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump might have a point.’ I said, ‘You’ve got some very bad people on the other side also,’ which is true.”
Scott, the first African-American elected to the Senate from the South since Reconstruction, expressed disgust with Trump’s comment in the immediate aftermath of the violence that killed one woman, saying he had compromised his “moral authority.”
But when asked about the President’s version of the meeting, Scott said “it’s who he has been.”
“I didn’t go in there to change who he was,” Scott said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I wanted to inform and educate a different perspective. I think we accomplished that and to assume that immediately thereafter he’s going to have an epiphany is just unrealistic.”
In a statement issued Thursday after the President spoke, Scott’s office said the senator was “very, very clear about the brutal history surrounding the white supremacist movement and their horrific treatment of black and other minority groups” during his meeting with the President.
“Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to expect the President’s rhetoric to change based on one 30-minute conversation is unrealistic,” the statement read. “Antifa is bad and should be condemned, yes, but the KKK has been killing and tormenting black Americans for centuries. There is no realistic comparison. Period.”
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders was asked if Scott had expressed his “displeasure” with the President’s initial response to Charlottesville during their Oval Office meeting. Sanders said, “Not at all.”
However, Scott told reporters after the meeting Wednesday that he had been “pleasantly surprised” that Trump spent time listening and thinking about “what might have been a better frame for his comments.”
“He certainly tried to convey what he was attempting to say,” Scott said. “He was trying to convey that there was an antagonist on the other side.”
“My response was that, while that’s true … the real picture has nothing to do with who is on the other side. It has to do with the affirmation of hate groups who over three centuries of this country’s history have made it their mission to create upheaval in minority communities as their reason for existence,” Scott said Wednesday.
“I shared my thoughts of the last three centuries of challenges from white supremacists, white nationalists, KKK, Nazis. So there’s no way to find an equilibrium when you have three centuries of history versus the situation that is occurring today,” he added.