WASHINGTON — Two GOP senators broke ranks with President Trump over Charlottesville, with one calling the president’s Tuesday remarks “indefensible” and the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee questioning Trump’s “competence.”
Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.) told Vice News in a sit-down interview airing this evening that he’s “not going to defend the indefensible” after Trump said there were “very fine people on both sides” of the white nationalist rally last weekend and blamed both sides for the violence after counter-protesters were run over, killing Heather Heyer.
Scott said the president’s “comments on Monday were strong,” when Trump read remarks that condemned racism and white supremacist groups as “repugnant.”
“His comments on Tuesday started erasing the comments that were strong,” Scott added. “What we want to see from our president is clarity and moral authority. And that moral authority is compromised when Tuesday happened. There’s no question about that.”
In July 2016, Scott took to the Senate floor to talk frankly about his experiences as a black man interacting with law enforcement. “In the course of one year, I’ve been stopped seven times by law enforcement officers …Was I speeding sometimes? Sure.” The senator held up two fingers. “But the vast majority of time, I was pulled over for nothing more than driving a new car in the wrong neighborhood or some other reason just as trivial.”
Scott told Vice, “Racism is real. It is alive. It is here. But the response from the vast majority of this country is diametrically opposite of the response in the ’60s. We’ve had the United States military, generals, leaders, standing up and rejecting, completely, racism. We’ve had corporate America, which was fairly silent back in the ’60s, standing up very strong, very loud, and very proud. So the response in totality is exactly the opposite of what it was in the ’60s.”
In Chattanooga today, Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) told a Rotary Club that Trump “has not yet been able to demonstrate the stability, nor some of the competence, that he needs to demonstrate in order for him to be successful — and our nation and our world needs for him to be successful, whether you are Republican or Democrat.”
Corker told reporters that Trump “also recently has not demonstrated that he understands the character of this nation.”
“He has not demonstrated that he understands what has made this nation great and what it is today. And he’s got to demonstrate the characteristics of a president who understands that,” he added. “Without the things I just mentioned happening, our nation is going to go through great peril.”
Corker, who began campaigning with Trump last summer, said this May that the White House was in a “downward spiral” amid disorganization and infighting.
Trump went after Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) this morning on Twitter for criticizing his Charlottesville response, but hasn’t yet tweeted about Scott or Corker.