New York, United States | AFP | Donald Trump found himself in the eye of a political storm Wednesday after his stunning remarks on the unrest in Charlottesville, which sparked unease within his own camp and could be a turning point in his already chaotic presidency.
Just about 200 days into his term, the US leader crossed a red line in saying there was “blame on both sides” for the melee, which began when a rally by white supremacists over the removal of a Confederate statue turned violent, as they clashed with counter-protesters.
The violent fracas in the Virginia college town ended in tragedy when a 20-year-old suspected Nazi sympathizer, James Fields, plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, leaving one woman dead and 19 others injured.
Trump’s defiant statements, delivered in a caustic way at Trump Tower and immediately hailed by a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan for their “courage,” left many lawmakers, Republicans and Democrats alike, speechless.
Many observers were left with the impression that the unscripted Trump of Tuesday was the real Trump — rather than the man who delivered a more measured statement from the White House on Monday in which he firmly denounced racism.
In a clear sign of embarrassment, Republican lawmakers did not line up to defend the real estate mogul-turned-president, as they have repeatedly done since he took office in January. Those who did speak criticized him.
“In Charlottesville, the blame lays squarely on the KKK and white supremacists,” the leader of the Republican National Committee, Ronna Romney McDaniel, told ABC News.
“He has to fix this and Republicans have to speak out. Plain and simple,” Ohio governor John Kasich, who battled Trump for the Republican presidential nomination last year, told NBC’s “Today” show.
“President Trump needs to listen to the people before he takes this presidency in a place that is not acceptable for our country.”