President Trump weighs in on Confederate monument debate

NEW YORK -- President Donald Trump threw his hat into the Confederate monument debate happening in several cities across the country during an impromptu press conference Tuesday.

While addressing the violent protests that took place in Charlottesville, Trump noted that some people were there to defend the statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee, not promote white-supremacist ideals.

“You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of – to them – a very, very important statue and the renaming of Robert E Lee Park to another name," the President said. "You’re changing history, you’re changing culture and you have people – and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazi’s and white nationalists – because they should be condemned totally, but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the press has treated them absolutely unfairly."

MORE: Protesters pull down Confederate statue in North Carolina

President Trump's full statement on the removal of Confederate monuments is as follows: 

“You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of – to them – a very, very important statue and the renaming of Robert E Lee Park to another name,

“George Washington was a slave owner. Was George Washington a Slave owner? So, will George Washington now lose his status? Are we going to take down statues to George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson? What do you think of Thomas Jefferson, do you like him? Are we going to take down the statue? Because he was a major slave owner. Now are we going to take down his statue?
So, you know what? It’s fine.

You’re changing history, you’re changing culture and you have people – and I’m not talking about the neo-nazi’s and white nationalists – because they should be condemned totally, but you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists and the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.

Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had trouble makers and you see them coming with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats and you’ve got a lot of bad people in the other group too.

MORE: Trump defends Charlottesville statements: 'I like to know the facts'

The original purpose of the press conference was to announce a new executive order "streamlining" the federal permitting process to speed up construction of transportation, water and other infrastructure projects without harming the environment.

White House officials confirmed that Trump's order includes revoking an Obama administration executive order requiring that builders take sea level rise driven by climate change into account when constructing projects in flood plains. Trump has suggested the predicted risks from sea level rise are overblown.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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