- REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
President Donald Trump said Thursday that he was vindicated for defending some protesters at a white nationalist event in Charlottesville, Virginia in August.
Speaking to reporters in Florida, where he was visiting with hurricane victims, Trump described his meeting on Wednesday with Sen. Tim Scott, the only black Republican senator, in which they discussed Scott’s criticism of Trump’s comments equating neo-Nazis and counterprotesters in Charlottesville.
But although the president reportedly listened intently to Scott’s concerns and said he understood the criticism of his statement, on Thursday Trump defended his previous comments.
“You have some pretty bad dudes on the other side also, and essentially that’s what I said,” Trump said, referencing the “advent of antifa,” a loosely-organized group whose popularity has waxed and waned over the past several decades.
“When you look at really what’s happened since Charlottesville, a lot of people are saying – and people have actually written – ‘Gee, Trump may have a point,” Trump said.
Following their meeting on Wednesday in which the two discussed how to move forward following Charlottesville, the South Carolina senator said Trump tried to explain his comments, but also tried to focus on the future.
“The Charlottesville comments were the foundation for the conversation,” Scott said. “But the discussion was about making progress in this nation.”
Scott’s office released another statement on Thursday after Trump’s comments in Florida.
“In yesterday’s meeting, Senator Scott was very, very clear about the brutal history surrounding the white supremacist movement and their horrific treatment of black and other minority groups,” the statement said. “Rome wasn’t built in a day, and to expect the President’s rhetoric to change based on one 30-minute conversation is unrealistic.”
Scott previously publicly admonished the president over his remarks.
In an interview on CBS’ “Face The Nation” in August, the South Carolina senator explained his argument that Trump’s response to Charlottesville “complicates his moral authority” to lead.
“It’s going to be very difficult for this president to lead if, in fact, that moral authority remains compromised,” Scott said.