Scott J. Ferrell/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Donald Trump is facing fresh criticism over his response to the deadly violence that broke in Charlottesville last Saturday. A bipartisan group of lawmakers denounced the president’s statements blaming “both sides” after counterprotesters clashed with neo-Nazis and white nationalists, leaving one dead and more than a dozen people injured.
Rep. André Carson, D-Ind., is among those criticizing Trump’s comments. Carson recently sponsored a House resolution calling on the president to fire white nationalists serving in his administration, he told ABC News’ congressional correspondent Mary Bruce and national political reporter MaryAlice Parks on ABC’s “Powerhouse Politics” podcast.
“Condemning neo-Nazis and white supremacists should be easy,” the Indianapolis Democrat said. Carson, however, argues that the president decided to “stand up” for “bigots and defend a domestic terrorist organization.”
In his Tuesday press conference, Trump said, “You had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists. … You had some fine people.” Carson said he believes the president’s failure to condemn white nationalists outright is “disgraceful and, quite frankly, unpresidential.”
While Republican lawmakers such as Sen. Marco Rubio and Gov. John Kasich have taken to Twitter to condemn Trump’s comments, Carson believes their criticism could go further. “I would love to see my Republican colleagues speak out more boldly,” he said.
Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., has also faced criticism for his failure to denounce the president’s words. Carson said that while the speaker has a “tough job,” he would “get more respect from his constituents and from the American people if he becomes bolder in rebuking and distancing himself from the Trump administration.”
That not more Republicans have spoken up against the president’s statements may isolate racial, ethnic and religious minorities, Carson said. Trump has “a history and a habit of minimizing groups of people,” he said.
Carson said these statues “mythologize” historical figures, such as General Robert E. Lee, who led controversial lives. President Trump, however, disagreed. He took to Twitter on Thursday to argue that if localities begin to remove statues of Confederate figures, others — such as Thomas Jefferson and George Washington — may have their statues removed as well.
Does Carson think Trump’s recent firing of White House chief strategist Steve Bannon is a step in the right direction? Not quite. “He should have never been hired in the first place,” Carson said.
As summer nears its end, the Trump administration has faced several setbacks, including the president’s controversial comments about Charlottesville; the firing of several top aides, including Bannon and Anthony Scaramucci; and rising tensions with North Korea.
“I think that this presidency is unraveling before our eyes,” Carson said.
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