AP — US President Donald Trump’s seemingly unscripted defense of Confederate statues during a press conference Tuesday echoed some right-wing talking points — and rhetoric from the far-right fringe.
Trump said Tuesday there were “very fine people on both sides” of the violent confrontation at a white nationalist rally in Virginia on Saturday. Some of them, Trump said, were there to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee.
“So, this week, it’s Robert E. Lee. I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down. I wonder: Is it George Washington next week? And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after? You really do have to ask yourself, ‘Where does it stop?'” Trump asked, noting that Washington and Jefferson were slave owners.
His statements echoed an exchange Monday night on Fox News between former House Speaker Newt Gingrich and the show’s host, Martha MacCallum.
“Where are you going to stop it?’ Gingrich said. “You want to say, ‘What if you weren’t sensitive enough to the Holocaust, we should take down all the statues of Franklin Delano Roosevelt?’ You could make an argument for that.”
“You could make an argument for Thomas Jefferson and George Washington,” MacCallum said. “Are you going to change the name of the Washington Monument?”
Gingrich noted that both former presidents were slave owners.
“Absolutely. That’s my point,” MacCallum said.
Trump’s statements also mirrored a post Monday by the publisher of The Daily Stormer, a notorious neo-Nazi website.
“These ‘protests’ are happening across the country,” Andrew Anglin wrote after a Confederate monument was taken down Monday in Durham, North Carolina. “And I guarantee you, they are going to go to Washington, and they are going to demand that the Washington Monument be torn down. They might even try to pull it down. Because George Washington owned slaves. More importantly, he was a white man who built something.”
Anglin’s site takes its name from Der Stürmer, a newspaper that published Nazi propaganda. The site includes sections called “Jewish Problem” and “Race War.”
Google canceled the domain name registration of The Daily Stormer on Monday after Anglin published a post mocking the woman killed in a deadly attack at the Charlottesville rally, calling her “fat” and “childless.”