President Donald Trump on Tuesday defended his decision to wait two days before placing blame on white supremacists for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, last Saturday. During a rambling and angry press conference at Trump Tower, the president attacked anti-fascist counterprotesters, repeating his earlier claim that “both sides” were to blame for the violence.
President Donald Trump: “What about the 'alt-left' that came charging at the, as you say, the 'alt-right'? Do they have any semblance of guilt? What—let me ask you this: What about the fact they came charging—that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.”
During the press conference, Trump seemed to ridicule the national movement to remove Confederate monuments, saying the protesters would next want to tear down statues of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. Trump also defended some of the white nationalist protesters who descended on Charlottesville.
President Donald Trump: “I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists, by any stretch. Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue, Robert E. Lee.”
Also on Tuesday, President Trump retweeted a cartoon showing a train running over a human figure with CNN’s logo over its face with the caption, “Nothing can stop the #TrumpTrain!!” Trump deleted the tweet several minutes after posting it. Trump’s tweet drew immediate comparisons to the killing of 32-year-old activist Heather Heyer, who was struck by a car Saturday driven by neo-Nazi James Fields Jr. Mourners are gathering in Charlottesville today for Heather Heyer’s funeral.
Meanwhile, more members of President Trump’s manufacturing advisory councils stepped down Tuesday in protest of Trump’s failure to fully condemn neo-Nazis and white nationalists. The heads of the AFL-CIO and Alliance for American Manufacturing joined the CEOs of Under Armour, Intel and Merck, who resigned earlier this week. Meanwhile, Wal-Mart CEO Doug McMillon criticized Trump’s handling of the Charlottesville violence, saying Trump “missed a critical opportunity to help bring our country together.”
On Capitol Hill, members of the Congressional Black Caucus revived calls Tuesday for the removal of Confederate monuments from the halls of Congress. Meanwhile, officials in Baltimore removed at least two Confederate statues overnight, after protesters covered the city’s Soldiers and Sailors Monument in red paint and after Baltimore’s City Council voted unanimously on Monday to remove them. This is Baltimore City Councilmember Brandon Scott.
Brandon Scott: “The folks that are displayed in these monuments were traitors to the United States of America. And we should not honor traitors with monuments anywhere within our country. These monuments are being used as beacons of lightning for the vile racism that’s being spit out by 'alt-right' and fringe groups throughout this country. And we should not be part of that.”
In Memphis, Tennessee, a large crowd linked arms Tuesday and surrounded a monument to former Confederate President Jefferson Davis, calling for the statue’s removal.
In Durham, North Carolina, police say they’re executing arrest warrants for protesters who tore down a Confederate Soldiers Monument in front of the old Durham County Courthouse Monday night. This is Durham County Sheriff Mike Andrews.
Sheriff Mike Andrews: “Let me be clear: No one is getting away with what happened. We will find the people responsible. In fact, we have identified some of those involved in the removal and the damage of the statue, and we are working towards making arrests. We are pursuing felony charges. When we arrest them, we will use every legal option available to us.”
On Tuesday, North Carolina Central University student Takiyah Thompson was arrested on two charges of felony inciting a riot—and three misdemeanor charges for bringing down the statue. Thompson is out on bail and will join us from Durham after headlines.
In South Korea, at least 10,000 protesters rallied in the capital Seoul Tuesday, calling on the Trump administration to end its threats of nuclear war against North Korea and calling on the U.S. to cancel the deployment of the THAAD anti-missile system. This is Han Chung-mok of the group Act for Peace.
Han Chung-mok: “August 15 is a day when we were freed from Japanese colonial rule. After the liberation, we are supposed to maintain peace as a freed country. But since President Trump took over, he has declared that he was willing to risk a war. Therefore, people of our nation gather here today to call for peace on the Korean Peninsula.”
Sierra Leone’s president is appealing for international aid as the number of people reported missing from Monday’s landslide in the capital Freetown rose past 600. Meteorologists say the area has seen nearly 20 inches more rain than average over the past month.
Meanwhile, in Nepal, the death toll from landslides brought on by heavy rainfall rose to 115 Tuesday, with another 38 people still missing. Officials say flash flooding has struck more than a third of the country’s districts, with more than 6 million people affected. Elsewhere, about a third of Bangladesh is under water from monsoon rains, with at least 29 people reported dead, while in India at least 81 people have died from recent flooding.
The extreme weather comes as NASA reported Tuesday that last month was the hottest July ever measured—topping the previous record, set in July of 2016. A landmark government report published last week found the average temperature in the U.S. has risen dramatically since 1980 and that the impacts of climate change are already being felt across the country. Despite those findings, President Trump on Tuesday signed an executive order ending a requirement that federally funded projects have strict building standards that consider future flooding from sea level rise due to climate change. Trump’s executive order came as part of his proposed $1 trillion infrastructure plan.
In Washington, D.C., 27 activists were arrested Tuesday at a sit-in protest outside the White House, where they called on the Trump administration not to end DACA, or Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals. The policy, which was first implemented five years ago, grants legal protection for some young immigrants to live and work in the United States. Among those arrested were Maryland gubernatorial candidate and former NAACP chair Ben Jealous and Illinois Democratic Congressmember Luis Gutiérrez. Hundreds more rallied for DACA in cities around the U.S. This is Nawshin Islam with Desis Rising Up and Moving, who came out publicly as undocumented for the first time at a protest Tuesday outside Trump Tower in New York.
Nawshin Islam: “It’s because of DACA I’ve gotten the chance to be human and work towards the kind of potential that I know I have, the kind of potential everyone here today has. Unfortunately, many of you may have heard that Texas Attorney General Paxton is demanding the cancellation of DACA by September 5th, or else he will file a lawsuit against DACA. If the lawsuit is filed, then it is up to Trump to defend DACA. But Trump won’t defend us unless we unite and force him to do so.”
And in Houston, Texas, prosecutors have dropped criminal charges against a pair of Harris County Sheriff’s deputies who are accused of conducting a roadside strip-search of 21-year-old Charnesia Corley, in an incident her lawyer calls “rape by cop.” Video of the June 2015 traffic stop released Monday shows a pair of deputies shoving Corley face down onto the pavement after pulling her over for allegedly running a stop sign. Corley says the officers removed her pants, threatened to break her legs, and penetrated her vagina without her consent as they searched for marijuana. Corley’s lawyer is calling for the appointment of a special prosecutor to reinvestigate the case.