Trump defends stance on Confederate monuments

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Donald Trump

Bridgewater (New Jersey)
President Donald Trump has again decried the removal of monuments to the pro-slavery Civil War Confederacy, echoing white nationalists and refusing to let go of a controversy that has inflamed racial tensions and threatens to further derail his policy agenda.
As a crisis deepened over Trump’s response to violence last Saturday in the Virginia college town of Charlottesville arising from a white nationalist protest against the removal of a Confederate statue, the White House knocked down rumours that Trump economic adviser Gary Cohn might resign.
A White House official said Cohn “intends to remain in his position” as National Economic Council director at the White House.
In a series of Twitter posts, Trump unleashed attacks on two fellow Republicans in the Senate, Jeff Flake and Lindsey Graham, raising fresh doubts about his ability to work with lawmakers in his own party to win passage of his legislative goals such as tax cuts and infrastructure spending.
Trump also denied he had spoken of “moral equivalency” between white supremacists, neo-Nazis and the Ku Klux Klan, and the anti-racism activists who clashed in Charlottesville.
His condemnation of the removal of Confederate statues and monuments in numerous cities was delivered a day after he announced the disbanding of presidential business advisory councils following the resignation of a parade of corporate executives over his Charlottesville remarks.
“Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments. You can’t change history, but you can learn from it,” Trump wrote on Twitter.
“Robert E Lee, Stonewall Jackson who’s next, Washington, Jefferson? So foolish!” Trump added. He was referring to two Confederate generals in the Civil War that ended in 1865, and to early United States presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, who owned slaves but whose legacy is overwhelmingly honoured.
He took aim at the removal or consideration for removal of Confederate statues and monuments in a long list of cities in California, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, New York, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Missouri, Montana, Tennessee, Virginia and Texas.
Trump also expressed distaste for removing Confederate statues in a heated news conference on Tuesday.
The Charlottesville violence erupted on Saturday when white nationalists marched in protest over the planned removal of a statue of Lee. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when a man described as a white nationalist crashed his car into the counter-protesters.
Trump blamed the violence on not just the white nationalist rally organisers but the counter-protesters, and said there were “very fine people” among both groups. He has been sharply rebuked by lawmakers of both parties, numerous American business leaders and US allies abroad.
Reuters

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