LePage: Removing Confederate statues is like taking down 9/11 memorial
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Maine Gov. Paul LePage (R) on Thursday defended President TrumpDonald John TrumpWarren unveils Native American policy plan Live-action 'Mulan' star spurs calls for boycott with support of Hong Kong police Don't let other countries unfairly tax America's most innovative companies MORE's claim that "both sides" were responsible for the violence that erupted at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, comparing Confederate memorials to those put up to honor the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

In an interview on WGAN radio in Portland, LePage accused counterdemonstrators of "trying to erase history" by calling for the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

"I think what they are standing for is equally as bad. They are trying to erase history," said LePage, a Republican and staunch Trump ally who has garnered a reputation for making controversial and inflammatory statements. "How can future generations learn if we're going to erase history? That's disgusting.

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"Listen, whether we like it or not, this is what our history is," he added. "And to me, it's just like going to New York City right now and taking down the monument of those who perished in 9/11. It will come to that."

In a fiery news conference on Tuesday, Trump defended white nationalist groups, saying there were "fine people" protesting on both sides of the issue.

"You are changing history, you’re changing culture," Trump told reporters, suggesting that removing Confederate statues paves the way for the desecration of the country's slave-owning Founding Fathers, specifically naming George Washington and Thomas Jefferson.

He also criticized so-called "alt-left" demonstrators, whom he accused of violently confronting those protesting the Lee statue's removal.

Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized the president for not taking a tougher stance against the hate groups that incited violence in the Virginia college town on Saturday, which led to the death of one counterprotester.

Trump doubled down on his opposition to removing Confederate statues in a series of tweets on Thursday, saying that doing so is "foolish" and "sad."

"Sad to see the history and culture of our great country being ripped apart with the removal of our beautiful statues and monuments," he tweeted. "You can't change history, but you can learn from it."