Trump denies equating neo-Nazis with Virginia counter-protesters
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Trump denies equating neo-Nazis with Virginia counter-protesters

US president accuses Lindsey Graham of pushing 'a disgusting lie' and misrepresenting his remarks on Charlottesville rally

This file photo taken on August 15, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump speaking to the press at Trump Tower in New York. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)
This file photo taken on August 15, 2017, shows US President Donald Trump speaking to the press at Trump Tower in New York. (AFP Photo/Jim Watson)

WASHINGTON — US President Donald Trump denied equating neo-Nazis and other white supremacists with left-wing protesters on Thursday, as he continued to come under for fire for remarks widely seen as having done just that.

In a series of tweets, Trump lashed out at fellow Republican Lindsey Graham on Thursday after the South Carolina senator criticized his response to last weekend’s deadly violence in Charlottesville.

“Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists…and people like Ms. Heyer,” Trump said on Twitter.

Heather Heyer, 32, was killed in Charlottesville on Saturday when a suspected white nationalist drove his car into a crowd protesting the far-right march.

“Such a disgusting lie,” Trump continued. “He just can’t forget his election trouncing. The people of South Carolina will remember!”

Trump appeared to be referring to his defeat of Graham in last year’s presidential primary.

In an early morning flurry, Trump again sought to cast himself as a victim of unfair press coverage of his remarks.

“The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is. They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!,” the US president added.

Graham had said the US president “took a step backward” Tuesday “by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally” and people like Heyer.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is surrounded by reporters as he arrives at the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is surrounded by reporters as he arrives at the Senate chamber on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, July 27, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

Clashes broke out between far-right demonstrators and counter-protesters in the Virginia college town of Charlottesville Saturday.

Members of organized neo-Nazi and so-called alt-right groups had called a rally to protest the removal of a Confederate statue there.

Both Democrat and Republican politicians criticized Trump’s initial response — when he condemned violence “on all sides” — as inadequate.

After a press conference on Monday in which he singled out the Klu Klux and neo-Nazis as “repugnant,” he appeared to move back to his previous position the following day.

He once again said there had been “blame on both sides,” setting off a political firestorm.

“You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side. There was a group on this side — you can call them the left, you’ve just called them the left — that came violently attacking the other group, so you can say what you want but that’s the way it is,” he said.

As the crisis unfolded, senior business executives began dropping out of the White House economic advisory councils to the point that Trump on Wednesday announced he was scrapping them.

World leaders have also criticized what they see as a lack of firmness on the issue that could open more space to the far-right in the United States.

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