Jerry Falwell Jr., one of President Trump’s most ardent evangelical supporters, said Sunday that the president “left the door open” to calling the recent violence in Charlottesville, Va., “domestic terrorism.”
Trump has twice blamed "both sides" for violence at a rally organized by white supremacists, white nationalists and neo-Nazi groups identifying as the “alt-right” that left one person dead and multiple injured. A counterprotester was killed when a car drove into a crowd. The alleged driver reportedly had alt-right ties.
Falwell, on ABC’s “This Week,” defended Trump for blaming violence on “many sides” in the incident, saying Trump “has inside information I don't have."
But Falwell, the president of Virginia’s Liberty University, defended the president for calling out white supremacists, white nationalists and KKK members by name as “pure evil.” Trump did so following his initial comments on Charlottesville.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have criticized Trump for suggesting “moral equivalency” between the white nationalists and counterprotesters at the Charlottesville event. Falwell rejected the idea that Trump ever suggested “moral equivalency” between hate groups and those protesting hate groups. Trump has also said that was not what he intended.
Trump “doesn't say what's politically correct, he says what's in his heart ... and sometimes that gets him in trouble,” Falwell said. “He’s not focus grouping every word he says.”
He went on to say Trump shows more “national leadership” and “substance over form” than the U.S. has seen “in a long time.”
“My support for the president is his bold and truthful willingness” to name names, Falwell said, joining a chorus of Trump defenders who criticize former President Obama’s response to similar national crises. “That’s something we haven’t seen in presidents in recent years.”