President Donald Trump has backtracked on his condemnation of far-right groups for the deadly Charlottesville rally, saying both left- and right-wing groups were at fault for the violence.
“They came at each other with clubs … it was a horrible thing to watch,” President Trump told reporters Tuesday from the lobby of Trump Tower in New York.
After attracting condemnation for his response Saturday, President Trump on Monday explicitly condemned neo-Nazi groups for the violence.
On Tuesday, he returned to the theme of his initial response by saying left-wing protesters “came violently attacking the other group”.
“There are two sides to a story,” the President said.
— The Situation Room (@CNNSitRoom) August 15, 2017
The Charlottesville rally turned violent after hundreds of white nationalists converged on the college town to protest plans to remove a statue of Confederate civil war general Robert E. Lee.
Street brawls broke out as the white nationalists were met by crowds of anti-racism demonstrators.
A car then ploughed into a group of the counter-protesters, killing one woman and injuring 19 other people.
A 20-year-old Ohio man, James Fields, said to have harboured Nazi sympathies, was charged with murder, malicious wounding and leaving the scene of a fatal accident.
On Tuesday, Mr Trump explained his initial restrained response by saying: “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.”
Mr Trump earlier on Tuesday hit back at business leaders who quit a presidential advisory panel in protest, calling the executives “grandstanders”.
Three business leaders quit a Trump panel in protest on Monday and on Tuesday, Scott Paul, president of the Alliance for American Manufacturing, said on Twitter he was also resigning.
Mr Trump bowed on Monday to two days of pressure for a more forceful response, singling out groups behind the “Unite the Right” rally that were widely seen as stoking the disturbances.
But he was still clearly frustrated over the reaction to his response.
“For every CEO that drops out of the Manufacturing Council, I have many to take their place. Grandstanders should not have gone on. Jobs!” Mr Trump said on Twitter on Tuesday.
– With AAP