President Trump thrust himself back into the racial storms of Charlottesville on Thursday, repeating his charge that those who resisted the neo-Nazis and white supremacists were as much to blame as the alt-right crowds who marched on the Virginia college town.
Mr. Trump was characterizing his side of a conversation on Wednesday with Senator Tim Scott of South Carolina, during which Mr. Scott, the Senate’s only black Republican, confronted the president on his claim that “both sides” were responsible for the violence that followed a torchlight protest against the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“Especially in light of the advent of Antifa, if you look at what’s going on there, you know, you have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also,” Mr. Trump said, referring to the anti-fascist activists who clashed with the neo-Nazis and white supremacists.
“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 — in fact, a lot of people have actually written, ‘Gee, Trump might have a point,” Mr. Trump said to reporters on Air Force One. “I said, ‘You’ve got some very bad people on the other side,’ which is true.”
It was the latest shift in Mr. Trump’s constantly evolving statements about Charlottesville. He has alternately condemned the hate groups and drawn a moral equivalence between them and the counterprotesters. On Thursday night, he signed a nonbinding congressional resolution urging him to condemn groups like white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan. But earlier in the day, Mr. Trump reverted to the unapologetic stance he took in a news conference last month at Trump Tower.
Despite that, Mr. Trump said that he and Mr. Scott had a “great conversation.” He described Mr. Scott as a longstanding friend whom he supported early in his career.
In his remarks to reporters after the meeting, Mr. Scott made it clear he had gone to the White House to rebut Mr. Trump’s claim that “both sides” were responsible. But he also said that he did not expect to change Mr. Trump’s mind — and that he had not.
“He is who he has been, and I didn’t go in there to change who he was,” Mr. Scott said on Thursday. “I wanted to inform and educate a different perspective. I think we accomplished that. To assume that immediately thereafter he’s going to have an epiphany is just unrealistic.”
Mr. Trump’s latest comments were a reminder that, for all the talk of a newly disciplined White House under the management of the chief of staff, John F. Kelly, the president remains an unpredictable character, with no intention of stifling his opinions.
You can read the rest at the New York Times.