NEW YORK—President Donald Trump said that the removal of confederate statues is changing history and culture.
At a press conference in Trump Tower on Aug. 15, Trump condemned violent protesters on both sides, which led to clashes over several hours, and to a driver killing one person and wounding 19 as he drove into a crowd, in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Aug. 12.
But Trump said that while he condemned neo-Nazis and white supremacists in the strongest terms, there were also some people who had come to protest legitimately.
“There were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee,” he said.
“I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned totally.”
In his remarks the president questioned where the removal of the statues would end.
“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 of George Washington? How about Thomas Jefferson, what do you think of Thomas Jefferson? Are we going take down his statue, because he was a massive slave owner, now are we going to take down his statue?” Trump asked reporters.
“You’re changing history, you’re changing culture.”
When asked who should decide on whether confederate statues should go he said “that’s up to a local town, community, or the federal government depending on where it’s located.”