Here are excerpts from Donald Trump’s news conference at Trump Tower on Tuesday afternoon.
On the delay in condemning white supremacists:
I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I didn’t wait long. I wanted to make sure unlike most politicians that what I said was correct. Not make a quick statement ... It takes a little while to get the facts. You still don’t know the facts and it’s a very, very important process to me ... You don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts ... When I make a statement I like to be correct ... Before I make a statement, I need the facts ... so making the statement when I made the statement, it was excellent. In fact the young woman who I hear was a fantastic young woman ... her mother wrote me and said, through I guess Twitter, social media, the nicest things and I very much appreciated that ... Her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly if the press were not fake and were honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice. I’d do it the same way and you know why? Because I want to make sure when I make a statement that the statement is correct.
On David Duke:
I didn’t know David Duke was there, I wanted to see the facts ... everybody said ‘His statement was beautiful,’ he could’ve made it sooner ... there’s still things that people don’t know.
On the Charlottesville murder suspect:
The driver of the car is a disgrace to himself his family and this country. And ... you can call it terrorism, you can call it murder. You can call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict, that’s what I would call it ... The driver of the car is a murderer, and what he did is a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.
On Steve Bannon:
I never spoke to Mr Bannon about it ... I like Mr Bannon, he’s a friend of mine. But Mr Bannon came on very late, you know that ... I like him, he’s a good man, he is not a racist ... But we’ll see what happens. He’s a good person and I think the press treats him frankly very unfairly.
On the “guilt” of anti-Nazi protesters:
When you say the ‘alt-right’, define alt-right to me. You define it. What about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at, excuse me, what about the ‘alt-left’ that came charging at as you say the ‘alt-right’, do they have any semblance of guilt? They do. What about the fact that they came charging swinging, they had clubs in their hands. Do they have any problem? I think that they do. As far as I’m concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute, I’m not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day. I will tell you something. I watch the shots very closely. You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent, and nobody wants to say that, but I’ll say that right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit, and they were very, very violent.
On the “fine people” among the white supremacist marchers:
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 of Robert E Lee, and you take a look at it, many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the 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 all, you really do have to ask yourself where does it stop ... You had some bad people in that group, but you also had very fine people on both sides.
What about the “alt-left”?
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 it the left ... that came violently attacking the other group. So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is. I think there’s blame on both sides ... and I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.
On George Washington:
George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a slaveowner? So will George Washington now lose his statues? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, you like him? ... Because he was a major slaveowner ... you’re changing history.