Trump defends Charlottesville comments

President TrumpDonald John TrumpMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Trump camp considering White House South Lawn for convention speech: reports Longtime Rep. Lacy Clay defeated in Missouri Democratic primary MORE on Friday defended his comments in the aftermath of the 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Va., in which he said there was "blame on both sides” for violence that led to the death of a counterprotester.

"If you look at what I said, you will see that that question was answered perfectly," Trump said as he left the White House for Indianapolis after a reporter asked about the Charlottesville comments.


"I was talking about people that went because they felt very strongly about the monument to Robert E. Lee, a great general," Trump continued. "Whether you like it or not, he was a great general."

"People were there protesting the taking down of the monument of Robert E. Lee," he added. "Everybody knows that."

The August 2017 "Unite the Right" rally was originally organized to protest the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee. The event turned violent when white supremacists, who had chanted anti-Semitic slogans and marched with Tiki torches on the first night of the rally, clashed with counterprotesters.

Heather Heyer, a counterprotester, was killed after James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd.

Trump initially condemned the white supremacists, but was widely criticized when he followed up by saying there was blame on "both sides" as well as "very fine people on both sides."

The incident served as a flashpoint in Trump's presidency and reemerged as a point of discussion on Thursday when former Vice President Joe BidenJoe BidenMark Kelly clinches Democratic Senate nod in Arizona Hillicon Valley: NSA warns of new security threats | Teen accused of Twitter hack pleads not guilty | Experts warn of mail-in voting misinformation Biden offers well wishes to Lebanon after deadly explosion MORE alluded to it while announcing his bid for the presidency in 2020.

Biden's announcement video largely focused on the Charlottesville rally and Trump's handling of it, calling it a "defining moment" for the country.

“With those words, the president of the United States assigned a moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it,” Biden said. “And in that moment, I knew the threat to this nation was unlike any I’d ever seen in my lifetime."