TRUMP: Condemning Neo-Nazis After Charlottesville Was ‘The Biggest F*cking Mistake’

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One of the most explosive revelations from Watergate reporter Bob Woodward’s new book, Fear: Trump Inside the White House comes from witness reports of his attitude regarding the on-screen statements he made clarifying his views on neo-Nazis groups after his staff finally convinced him that it was necessary to do so.

The Washington Post released a summary of book excerpts, one of which details the atmosphere in the White House around the death of Heather Heyer in Charlottesville during a Unite the Right rally attended by neo-Nazis and other white supremacist groups.

Staffers reported being embarrassed and outraged by Trump’s initial statement that there had been “fine people” as well as “blame on both sides.” As the country grew more and more embroiled in division over any suggestion that a group marching to uphold white supremacy included “fine people,” he was browbeaten into making a begrudging follow-up statement.

‘Trump was sharply criticized for initially saying that “both sides” were to blame. At the urging of advisers, he then condemned white supremacists and neo-Nazis, but almost immediately told aides, “That was the biggest fucking mistake I’ve made” and the “worst speech I’ve ever given,” according to Woodward’s account.’

Trump’s own economic advisor, Gary Cohn, was particularly upset by it.

‘Cohn came to regard the president as “a professional liar” and threatened to resign in August 2017 over Trump’s handling of a deadly white supremacist rally in Charlottesville. Cohn, who is Jewish, was especially shaken when one of his daughters found a swastika on her college dorm room.

‘When Cohn met with Trump to deliver his resignation letter after Charlottesville, the president told him, “This is treason,” and persuaded his economic adviser to stay on. Kelly then confided to Cohn that he shared Cohn’s horror at Trump’s handling of the tragedy — and shared Cohn’s fury with Trump.’

Chief of Staff John Kelly supported Cohn in the feud.

‘“I would have taken that resignation letter and shoved it up his ass six different times,” Kelly told Cohn, according to Woodward. Kelly himself has threatened to quit several times, but has not done so.’

Cohn remained until March 2018, when he resigned his post. What finally broke him, even though his president said men shouting “Jews will not replace us” were “very fine people” and threats to his daughter’s life couldn’t do it, was tariffs.

Featured image via Flickr by Gage Skidmore under a Creative Commons license