WASHINGTON — After scathing morning tweets from President Trump, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) admonished the president to fix, “for the sake of our nation,” the fact that white supremacist groups praise the current occupant of the White House.
Trump delivered Tuesday remarks in which he said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville and both sides were to blame for violence that resulted in the death of counterprotester Heather Heyer, comments that drew praise from white supremacists involved in the rally including former KKK Grand Wizard David Duke. In a statement Wednesday, Graham said, “Mr. President, I encourage you to try to bring us together as a nation after this horrific event in Charlottesville. Your words are dividing Americans, not healing them.”
“Through his statements yesterday, President Trump took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally and people like Ms. Heyer. I, along with many others, do not endorse this moral equivalency,” Graham continued. “Many Republicans do not agree with and will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world.”
Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) said Tuesday, “We cannot accept excuses for white supremacy and acts of domestic terrorism. We must condemn them. Period.”
He added Wednesday: “We can’t claim to be the party of Lincoln if we equivocate in condemning white supremacy.”
Today, Trump lashed out at both on Twitter.
“Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacist and people like Ms. Heyer. Such a disgusting lie. He just can’t forget his election trouncing.The people of South Carolina will remember!” Trump tweeted. “The public is learning (even more so) how dishonest the Fake News is. They totally misrepresent what I say about hate, bigotry etc. Shame!”
Trump added, “Great to see that Dr. Kelli Ward is running against Flake Jeff Flake, who is WEAK on borders, crime and a non-factor in Senate. He’s toxic!”
Graham replied, “Mr. President, like most I seek to move our nation, my state, and our party forward – toward the light – not back to the darkness. Your tweet honoring Miss Heyer was very nice and appropriate. Well done.”
“However, because of the manner in which you have handled the Charlottesville tragedy you are now receiving praise from some of the most racist and hate-filled individuals and groups in our country,” the senator added. “For the sake of our Nation — as our President — please fix this. History is watching us all.”