The schedule for #Donald Trump‘s first full day back in New York since the start of his presidency entailed walking into the Trump Tower lobby, talking about infrastructure for a few minutes, and immediately reboarding his golden elevator without taking any questions. Much to chief of staff John Kelly’s apparent chagrin, that did not happen.
Instead, Trump opted to take a few questions after his prepared remarks. The assembled reporters naturally had more questions about last weekend’s white nationalist rally in Charlottesville than they did about infrastructure bureaucracy. The result? A deluge of remarks suggesting that both sides—neo-Nazis and those who protested their assembly—shared the blame for Saturday’s violence equally. Trump asserted that he did not initially denounce white supremacists by name until Monday because he didn’t have all available facts until then, and pondered if pulling down a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee would lead to the targeting of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson next.
Creating an equivalence between a group with swastikas, lit torches, and semiautomatic weapons struck many observers as patently absurd, especially given that one of those alleged white supremacists was charged with plowing into a crowd of protesters with his car, killing one and injuring 19 others. But a closer examination of Trump’s talking points shows that nearly every one has a direct link back to either someone the president follows on #Twitter or a Fox News segment that aired after Saturday.
Trump notoriously picks up proclamations from either Twitter or his cable news habit, in which Fox News plays a significant role. That Trump’s divisive comments Tuesday appear to stem from sources with a national audience suggests that they shouldn’t have come as a complete surprise—and that the white supremacists marching through Virginia this past weekend have far more apologists than one might have assumed.
To help you get a glimpse of how Trump’s Nazi-friendly statements formed, here are his more salient points, traced to the likely source.
On waiting for all the facts.
Donald Trump said: “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. And it takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts. And it is a very, very important process to me. It is a very important statement. So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts.”
Trump’s Twitter timeline said:
“It has become ‘shoot first..then investigate’ – rather than, ‘what are the facts? Can we figure out a solution?” —Greta Van Susteren, Aug. 13, 8:28 am
“Bottom line: need a complete investigation into all the facts and circumstances surrounding it” —Greta Van Susteran, Aug. 13, 12:25 pm
Fox News said: Monday, on Fox News show The Five, cohost Jesse Watters let the president off the hook for his tepid first response: “I’m not in the President’s head, thank God. Perhaps the President was thinking, you know what? We don’t have all the facts like Dana said. Let’s just take a big picture approach. Because both sides are rumbling. I don’t know who the driver was before I make a statement. And I don’t think he was going to let the left wing violence off the hook. So, who knows what is going to happen.”