'The President Was Entirely Correct'

President Trump’s remarks on the deadly white-supremacist rally in Charlottesville have sparked widespread outrage. But the White House is asking congressional Republicans to follow his lead.

Joshua Roberts / Reuters

Every day, the White House communications office sends official talking points to Republican members of Congress. These communiqués help the GOP stay on the same page (and, in the Trump era, help the embattled president’s allies come up with arguments in his defense).

On Tuesday evening, a few hours after the president’s inflammatory press conference defending white nationalist protesters in Charlottesville, the office issued an “evening communications briefing,” which was passed along to me by a Republican congressional aide. It encourages members to echo the president’s line, contending that “both sides … acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.”

You can read the talking points in their entirety here. The links in the text are the White House’s. The briefing goes on to include a transcript of the president’s question-and-answer session with reporters at Trump Tower, followed by commentary on other issues.


  • The President was entirely correct -- both sides of the violence in Charlottesville acted inappropriately, and bear some responsibility.
  • Despite the criticism, the President reaffirmed some of our most important Founding principles: We are equal in the eyes of our Creator, equal under the law, and equal under our Constitution.
    • He has been a voice for unity and calm, encouraging the country to “rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that brings us together as Americans.”
    • He called for the end of violence on all sides so that no more innocent lives would be lost.
  • The President condemned - with no ambiguity - the hate groups fueled by bigotry and racism over the weekend, and did so by name yesterday, but for the media that will never be enough.
    • The media reacted with hysteria to the notion that counter-protesters showed up with clubs spoiling for a fight, a fact that reporters on the ground have repeatedly stated.
    • Even a New York Times reporter tweeted that she “saw club-wielding "antifa" beating white nationalists being led out of the park.”
    • The local ACLU chapter also tweeted that
  • We should not overlook the facts just because the media finds them inconvenient:
    • From cop killing and violence at political rallies, to shooting at Congressmen at a practice baseball game, extremists on the left have engaged in terrible acts of violence.
    • The President is taking swift action to hold violent hate groups accountable.
      • The DOJ has opened a civil rights investigation into this weekend’s deadly car attack.
      • Last Thursday, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced it had completed the largest prosecution of white supremacists in the nation’s history.
  • Leaders and the media in our country should join the president in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division.

Transcript of President's Q&A:

Q    Mr. President, why do you think these CEOs are leaving your manufacturing council?

THE PRESIDENT:  Because they're not taking their job seriously as it pertains to this country.  And we want jobs, manufacturing in this country.  If you look at some of those people that you're talking about they’re outside of the country, they're having a lot of their product made outsider.  If you look at Merck as an example, take a look where -- excuse me, excuse me -- take a look at where their product is made.  It's made outside of our country.  We want products made in the country.

     Now, I have to tell you, some of the folks that will leave, they're leaving out of embarrassment because they make their products outside.  And I've been lecturing them, including the gentleman that you're referring to, about you have to bring it back to this country.  You can't do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places.  You have to bring this work back to this country.  That's what I want.  I want manufacturing to be back into the United States so that American workers can benefit.

Q    Let me ask you, Mr. President, why did you wait so long to blast neo-Nazis?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t wait long.

Q    You waited two days --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t wait long.

Q    Forty-eight hours.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I wanted to make sure, unlike most politicians, that what I said was correct -- not make a quick statement.  The statement I made on Saturday, the first statement, was a fine statement.  But you don’t make statements that direct unless you know the facts.  It takes a little while to get the facts.  You still don’t know the facts.  And it's a very, very important process to me, and it's a very important statement.

     So I don’t want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement.  I want to know the facts.  If you go back to --

Q    So you had to (inaudible) white supremacists?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I brought it.  I brought it.  I brought it.

Q    Was it terrorism, in your opinion, what happened?

     THE PRESIDENT:  As I said on -- remember, Saturday -- we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  It has no place in America.  And then it went on from there.

     Now, here's the thing --

Q    (Inaudible) many sides.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me.  Excuse me.  Take it nice and easy.  Here's the thing:  When I make a statement, I like to be correct.  I want the facts.  This event just happened.  In fact, a lot of the event didn’t even happen yet, as we were speaking.  This event just happened.

     Before I make a statement, I need the facts.  So I don’t want to rush into a statement.  So making the statement when I made it was excellent.  In fact, the young woman, who I hear was a fantastic young woman, and it was on NBC -- her mother wrote me and said through, I guess, Twitter, social media, the nicest things.  And I very much appreciated that.  I hear she was a fine -- really, actually, an incredible young woman.  But her mother, on Twitter, thanked me for what I said.

     And honestly, if the press were not fake, and if it was honest, the press would have said what I said was very nice.  But unlike you, and unlike -- excuse me, unlike you and unlike the media, before I make a statement, I like to know the facts.

Q    Why do Nazis like you -- (inaudible) -- these statements?

     THE PRESIDENT:  They don’t.  They don’t.

Q    They do.  Look --


     THE PRESIDENT:  How about a couple of infrastructure questions.

Q    Was it terrorism, that event?  Was that terrorism?

Q    The CEO of Walmart said you missed a critical opportunity --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Say it.  What?

Q    The CEO of Walmart said you missed a critical opportunity to help bring the country together.  Did you?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Not at all.  I think the country -- look, you take a look.  I've created over a million jobs since I'm President.  The country is booming.  The stock market is setting records.  We have the highest employment numbers we've ever had in the history of our country.  We're doing record business.  We have the highest levels of enthusiasm.  So the head of Walmart, who I know -- who's a very nice guy -- was making a political statement.  I mean --

Q    (Inaudible.)

     THE PRESIDENT:  I'd do it the same way.  And you know why?  Because I want to make sure, when I make a statement, that the statement is correct.  And there was no way -- there was no way of making a correct statement that early.  I had to see the facts, unlike a lot of reporters.  Unlike a lot of reporters --

Q    Nazis were there.

Q    David Duke was there.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t know David Duke was there.  I wanted to see the facts.  And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well stated.  In fact, everybody said, "His statement was beautiful.  If he would have made it sooner, that would have been good."  I couldn’t have made it sooner because I didn’t know all of the facts.  Frankly, people still don’t know all of the facts.

It was very important -- excuse me, excuse me -- it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly.  Because if I would have made a fast statement -- and the first statement was made without knowing much, other than what we were seeing.  The second statement was made after, with knowledge, with great knowledge.  There are still things -- excuse me -- there are still things that people don’t know.

     I want to make a statement with knowledge.  I wanted to know the facts.

Q    Two questions.  Was this terrorism?  And can you tell us how you're feeling about your chief strategist, Stephen Bannon?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and this country.  And that is -- you can call it terrorism.  You can call it murder.  You can call it whatever you want.  I would just call it as "the fastest one to come up with a good verdict."  That's what I'd call it.  Because there is a question:  Is it murder?  Is it terrorism?  And then you get into legal semantics.  The driver of the car is a murderer.  And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.

Q    Can you tell us how you're feeling about your chief strategist, Mr. Bannon?  Can you talk about that?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

Q    I would echo Maggie's question.  Steve Bannon has come under --

     THE PRESIDENT:  I never spoke to Mr. Bannon about it.

Q    Can you tell us broadly what your -- do you still have confidence in Steve?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, we'll see.  Look, look -- I like Mr. Bannon.  He's a friend of mine.  But Mr. Bannon came on very late.  You know that.  I went through 17 senators, governors, and I won all the primaries.  Mr. Bannon came on very much later than that.  And I like him, he's a good man.  He is not a racist, I can tell you that.  He's a good person.  He actually gets very unfair press in that regard.  But we'll see what happens with Mr. Bannon.  But he's a good person, and I think the press treats him, frankly, very unfairly.

Q    Senator McCain has called on you to defend your National Security Advisor, H.R. McMaster, against these attacks.

     THE PRESIDENT:  I did it the last time.

Q    And he called on it again, linking --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Senator McCain?

Q    -- to the alt-right, and saying --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Senator McCain?

Q    Yes

THE PRESIDENT:  You mean the one who voted against Obamacare?

Q    And he said --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Who is -- you mean Senator McCain who voted against us getting good healthcare?

Q    Senator McCain said that the alt-right is behind these attacks, and he linked that same group to those who perpetrated the attack in Charlottesville.

     THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I don’t know.  I can't tell you.  I'm sure Senator McCain must know what he's talking about.  But when you say the alt-right, define alt-right to me.  You define it.  Go ahead.

Q    Well, I'm saying, as Senator --

     THE PRESIDENT:  No, define it for me.  Come on, let's go.  Define it for me.

Q    Senator McCain defined them as the same group --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging at -- excuse me, what about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right?  Do they have any semblance of guilt?

     Let me ask you this:  What about the fact that they came charging with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs?  Do they have any problem?  I think they do.  As far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day.

Q    You're not putting these --

     THE PRESIDENT:  Wait a minute.  I'm not finished.  I'm not finished, fake news.  That was a horrible day --

Q    Sir, you're not putting these protestors on the same level as neo-Nazis --

Q    Is the alt-left as bad as white supremacy?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I will tell you something.  I watched those very closely -- much more closely than you people watched it.  And you have -- you had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent.  And nobody wants to say that, but I'll say it right now.  You had a group -- you had a group on the other side that came charging in, without a permit, and they were very, very violent.

Q    Is the alt-left as bad as Nazis?  Are they as bad as Nazis?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Go ahead.

Q    Do you think that what you call the alt-left is the same as neo-Nazis?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Those people -- all of those people --excuse me, I've condemned neo-Nazis.  I've condemned many different groups.  But not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me.  Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.  Those people were also there because they wanted to protest the taking down of a statue of Robert E. Lee.

Q    Should that statue be taken down?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me.  If you take a look at some of the groups, and you see -- and you'd know it if you were honest reporters, which in many cases you're not -- but many of those people were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

     So this week it's Robert E. Lee.  I noticed that Stonewall Jackson is coming down.  I wonder, is it George Washington next week?  And is it Thomas Jefferson the week after?  You know, you really do have to ask yourself, where does it stop?

     But they were there to protest -- excuse me, if you take a look, the night before they were there to protest the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.

     Infrastructure question.  Go ahead.

Q    Should the statues of Robert E. Lee stay up?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I would say that's up to a local town, community, or the federal government, depending on where it is located.

Q    How concerned are you about race relations in America?  And do you think things have gotten worse or better since you took office?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I think they've gotten better or the same.  Look, they've been frayed for a long time.  And you can ask President Obama about that, because he'd make speeches about it.  But I believe that the fact that I brought in -- it will be soon -- millions of jobs -- you see where companies are moving back into our country -- I think that's going to have a tremendous, positive impact on race relations.

     We have companies coming back into our country.  We have two car companies that just announced.  We have Foxconn in Wisconsin just announced.  We have many companies, I say, pouring back into the country.  I think that's going to have a huge, positive impact on race relations.  You know why?  It's jobs.  What people want now, they want jobs.  They want great jobs with good pay, and when they have that, you watch how race relations will be.

     And I’ll tell you, we’re spending a lot of money on the inner cities.  We’re fixing the inner cities.  We’re doing far more than anybody has done with respect to the inner cities.  It’s a priority for me, and it’s very important.

Q    Mr. President, are you putting what you’re calling the alt-left and white supremacists on the same moral plane?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I’m not putting anybody on a moral plane.  What I’m saying is this:  You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other, and they came at each other with clubs -- and it was vicious and it was horrible.  And it was a horrible thing to watch.

But there is another side.  There was a group on this side.  You can call them the left -- you just called them the left -- that came violently attacking the other group.  So you can say what you want, but that’s the way it is.

Q    (Inaudible) both sides, sir.  You said there was hatred, there was violence on both sides.  Are the --

THE PRESIDENT:  Yes, I think there’s blame on both sides.  If you look at both sides -- I think there’s blame on both sides.  And I have no doubt about it, and you don’t have any doubt about it either.

And if you reported it accurately, you would say.

Q    The neo-Nazis started this.  They showed up in Charlottesville to protest --

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me, excuse me.  They didn’t put themselves -- and you had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides.  You had people in that group.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  Excuse me, excuse me.  I saw the same pictures as you did.

You had people in that group that were there to protest the taking down of, to them, a very, very important statue and the renaming of a park from Robert E. Lee to another name.

Q    George Washington and Robert E. Lee are not the same.

THE PRESIDENT:  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 --

Excuse me, are we going to take down statues to George Washington?  How about Thomas Jefferson?  What do you think of Thomas Jefferson?  You like him?

Q    I do love Thomas Jefferson.

THE PRESIDENT:  Okay, good.  Are we going to take down the statue?  Because he was a major slave owner.  Now, are we going to take down his statue?

So you know what, it’s fine.  You’re changing history.  You’re changing culture.  And you had people -- and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists -- because they should be condemned totally.  But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.  Okay?  And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.

Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people.  But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats.  You had a lot of bad people in the other group.

Q    Who are the good people?

Q    Sir, I just didn’t understand what you were saying.  You were saying the press has treated white nationalists unfairly?  I just don’t understand what you were saying.

THE PRESIDENT:  No, no.  There were people in that rally -- and I looked the night before -- if you look, there were people protesting very quietly the taking down of the statue of Robert E. Lee.  I’m sure in that group there were some bad ones.  The following day it looked like they had some rough, bad people -- neo-Nazis, white nationalists, whatever you want to call them.

But you had a lot of people in that group that were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest -- because I don’t know if you know, they had a permit.  The other group didn’t have a permit.  So I only tell you this:  There are two sides to a story.  I thought what took place was a horrible moment for our country -- a horrible moment.  But there are two sides to the country.

Does anybody have a final --

Q    I have an infrastructure question.

     THE PRESIDENT:  You have an infrastructure --

Q    What makes you think you can get an infrastructure bill?  You didn’t get healthcare --

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, you know, I’ll tell you.  We came very close with healthcare.  Unfortunately, John McCain decided to vote against it at the last minute.  You’ll have to ask John McCain why he did that.  But we came very close to healthcare.  We will end up getting healthcare.  But we’ll get the infrastructure.  And actually, infrastructure is something that I think we’ll have bipartisan support on.  I actually think Democrats will go along with the infrastructure.

Q    Mr. President, have you spoken to the family of the victim of the car attack?

THE PRESIDENT:  No, I’ll be reaching out.  I’ll be reaching out.

Q    When will you be reaching out?

THE PRESIDENT:  I thought that the statement put out -- the mother’s statement I thought was a beautiful statement.  I will tell you, it was something that I really appreciated.  I thought it was terrific.  And, really, under the kind of stress that she’s under and the heartache that she’s under, I thought putting out that statement, to me, was really something.  I won’t forget it.

Thank you, all, very much.  Thank you.  Thank you.

* * * *

Q    Will you go to Charlottesville?  Will you go to check out what happened?

     THE PRESIDENT:  I own a house in Charlottesville.  Does anyone know I own a house in Charlottesville?

Q    Where is it?

     THE PRESIDENT:  Oh boy, it’s going to be --

Q    Where is it?

THE PRESIDENT:  It's in Charlottesville.  You'll see.

Q    Is it a winery or something?

THE PRESIDENT:  It is the winery.

I mean, I know a lot about Charlottesville.  Charlottesville is a great place that's been very badly hurt over the last couple of days.

Q    (Inaudible.)

THE PRESIDENT:  I own, actually, one of the largest wineries in the United States.  It's in Charlottesville.  

Q    Do you believe your words are helping to heal this country right now?

Q    What do you think needs to be done to overcome the racial divides in this country?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think jobs can have a big impact.  I think if we continue to create jobs -- over a million, substantially more than a million.  And you see just the other day, the car companies coming in with Foxconn.  I think if we continue to create jobs at levels that I’m creating jobs, I think that’s going to have a tremendous impact -- positive impact on race relations.

Q    Your remarks today, how do you think that will impact the racial, sort of conflict, today?

     THE PRESIDENT:  The people are going to be working, they’re going to be making a lot of money -- much more money than they ever thought possible.  But that’s going to happen.

Q    Your remarks today.

     THE PRESIDENT:  And the other thing -- very important -- I believe wages will start going up.  They haven’t gone up for a long time.  I believe wages now -- because the economy is doing so well with respect to employment and unemployment, I believe wages will start to go up.  I think that will have a tremendously positive impact on race relations.

Executive Order Streamlining Infrastructure Permitting

  • On August 15, 2017, President Donald J. Trump signed Executive Order entitled, “Establishing Discipline and Accountability in the Environmental Review and Permitting Process for Infrastructure Projects,” which is a crucial step in fulfilling his commitment to eliminate the Federal bureaucracy attached to environmental review and permitting for major infrastructure projects.
  • President Trump is a builder. With that builder’s mindset, he recognizes that the current sea of Federal red tape for environmental reviews and permitting unnecessarily hampers the delivery of major infrastructure projects and prevents the American people from enjoying the benefits of upgraded infrastructure.
  • The President has heard the calls from other builders—project sponsors, infrastructure industries, and State and local governments—to break down the countless Federal Government obstacles that impede infrastructure progress. With this action today, help is on the way to build faster the major infrastructure projects that America desperately needs.
  • The Executive Order directs agencies to take important actions that will fundamentally transform the way the Federal Government processes environmental review and permitting decisions for infrastructure projects—
    • One Federal Decision: No longer will sponsors of major infrastructure projects be forced to spend time and money navigating a complex web of permitting and environmental reviews with multiple Federal agencies.  The Executive Order requires the Federal Government to speak with one voice through One Federal Decision.
    • 2-Year Goal: The Executive Order takes aim at the decade it can currently take the Federal Government to process environmental documents for major infrastructure projects and instead establishes a 2-year goal.  Not only will this save time, it will save money and provide projects sponsors much-needed predictability in scheduling and delivering projects.
    • Accountability: Private entities are routinely held accountable for achieving milestones in delivering projects, and with this Presidential action, the Federal Government will be held accountable, too.  The Executive Order requires Federal agencies to track their achievement of milestones, report progress to the White House, and face penalties for poor performance.
  • Importantly, this Executive Order will ensure the Federal Government will conduct environmental reviews more efficiently while still protecting the environment. Environmental laws have important objectives, but the Federal Government’s current inefficiencies needlessly impede delivery of infrastructure projects throughout the country.
  • Accountability and reform of the Federal bureaucracy concerning environmental review and permitting of infrastructure projects is long overdue. The President’s action today will ensure more timely and efficient infrastructure investment that will strengthen the American economy, make our country more competitive, create jobs and increase wages for workers, and reduce the costs of goods and services for our families.


  • Infrastructure Discussion and Executive Order Signing


Presidential Memorandum Addressing Chinese Intellectual Property Practices

Top Line:

  • With this memorandum, President Trump is standing up for American companies and workers against China’s unfair trade practices and industrial policies, including forced technology transfer and intellectual property theft.
    • China’s industrial policies stack the deck against American companies by forcing the transfer of cutting-edge technology and intellectual property.
    • For example, U.S. companies can be required to enter into joint ventures with Chinese companies if they want to do business in China, resulting in Chinese companies forcibly acquiring U.S. intellectual property.
  • Americans are the world’s most prolific innovators, creating the greatest technologies, products, and companies. They should not be forced or coerced to turn over the fruits of their labor.
    • The current trajectory is unsustainable. Innovation in the U.S. economy is put at risk by China continually forcing companies to turn over their proprietary technologies and IP.
  • The President is also standing strong against the theft of American IP, including defense-related technologies.
    • The costs of intellectual property theft alone to the U.S. economy are estimated to be as high as $600 billion a year.
    • Such thefts not only damage American companies, they also threaten our national security.
  • President Trump is committed to protecting American technology and ensuring our national security.

This Presidential Memorandum:

  • Directs the United States Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer to determine, consistent with section 302(b) of the Trade Act of 1974 (19 U.S.C. 2412(b)), whether to investigate any of China’s laws, policies, practices, or actions may be unreasonable or discriminatory and that may be harming American intellectual property, innovation, or technology.
    • Section 302(b) permits the USTR to investigate acts, policies, or practices of a foreign country to determine whether they are unreasonable or discriminatory and burden or restrict U.S. commerce
    • Should the USTR decide to launch such an investigation, he will have, at his discretion, broad powers to use all applicable measures, including, but not limited to, Section 301 of the Trade Act of 1974, which provides a basis for addressing technology transfer practices that may be harming the U.S. economy, exports, and American jobs.

Additional Background:

  • If Americans continue to have their best technology and intellectual property stolen or forcibly transferred offshore, the United States will find it difficult to maintain its current technology leadership position and to remain one of the world’s most innovative economies.
  • The U.S. government, industry representatives, and other experts have been raising substantial concerns about Chinese government pressure to transfer valuable U.S. technology to China.  Examples of reported pressure include:
    • China uses restrictions such as joint venture requirements, equity ownership limitations, opaque administrative processes, and other practices aimed at the transfer of U.S. technology to Chinese companies;
    • China imposes non-market-based terms on contracts signed by U.S. firms with Chinese entities; and
    • China funds and facilitates the acquisition of U.S. firms that possess advanced technologies.
    • China has gained unauthorized access to the computer networks of U.S. businesses for commercial purpose and, on a number of occasions, has stolen firms’ commercial information.
      • The types of sensitive information obtained included internal communications that would provide a competitor or an adversary in litigation insight into the strategy and vulnerabilities of the American entity.
  • The consequences of China’s reported actions may include: lost or reduced U.S. sales, exports, and jobs in key technology sectors; loss of intellectual property or proprietary technology to Chinese companies; loss of competitive position in the marketplace or in business negotiations; and network security costs, legal fees, and other costs.
  • President Trump is fulfilling yet another promise to the American people on trade. In June 2016, President Trump promised the American people that he would “use every lawful presidential power” to crack down on trade abuses in China, and this announcement is the first step in that process.
  • Given the importance of this issue and widespread concern about Chinese practices, USTR Lighthizer will immediately review these issues to take prompt and appropriate action in response to this memorandum.