The Latest: VA secretary defends Trump remarks

AP News
Posted: Aug 16, 2017 6:03 PM
The Latest: VA secretary defends Trump remarks

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Latest on Republican reaction to President Donald Trump's comments about the weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia (all times EDT):

6 p.m.

A Jewish member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet says Trump has "done a good job of speaking for himself" and has made clear he opposes bigotry, hatred, violence, Nazis and white supremacists.

Veterans Affairs Secretary David Shulkin says he personally was "outraged" by the behavior of neo-Nazis and white supremacists —which included chants against Jews — during weekend clashes with counter-demonstrators in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Trump said Tuesday there were "very fine people" on both sides.

Shulkin says it's a "dishonor" to America's military veterans to allow Nazis and white supremacists to go unchallenged. He says all Americans must speak out against such views.

Shulkin — who served at the VA under President Barack Obama — joined Trump in New Jersey for the signing of legislation expanding veterans' education benefits.


4:30 p.m.

The only black member of President Donald Trump's Cabinet — Ben Carson — is urging Americans to take the "high road" to fight bigotry following the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

In a Facebook post Wednesday, Housing Secretary Carson tells a story about a neighbor in rural Maryland who put up a Confederate flag. Other neighbors, Carson says, quickly put up American flags — shaming the neighbor, who then removed the Confederate flag. He says, "less than kind behavior was met by people taking the high road."

Carson did not mention Trump's comments Tuesday, in which the president blamed "both sides" for the deadly racial violence on Saturday. In a post Sunday, Carson said it was "sad watching the political pundits arguing about whether President Trump went far enough in condemning the instigators of the violence in Charlottesville."


3 p.m.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi is criticizing Republicans who haven't spoken out against President Donald Trump's comments on white supremacists.

Speaking in Los Angeles Wednesday, the Democratic leader said there is a "deafening silence" from most of her Republican colleagues.

She says: "I hope that we will hear more from them."

The Republican president has been widely criticized since insisting that "both sides" were to blame for racially charged violence last weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, that left one woman dead and led to the death of two state troopers in a helicopter crash.

The San Francisco Democrat also raised concerns about a planned rally at a federal park in her home city being organized by Trump supporters.


11:40 a.m.

Sen. Lindsey Graham says President Donald Trump's comments about the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, are dividing Americans instead of healing them.

The South Carolina Republican said in a statement Wednesday that many Republicans "will fight back against the idea that the Party of Lincoln has a welcome mat out for the David Dukes of the world." Duke is a former leader of the Ku Klux Klan.

Graham was responding to Trump's comments at a news conference that white supremacist groups and the people protesting against them share the blame for the violence in Charlottesville.

Graham said Trump "took a step backward by again suggesting there is moral equivalency between the white supremacist neo-Nazis and KKK members who attended the Charlottesville rally" and people like Heather Heyer, who was killed at the rally.


11:20 a.m.

The Senate's top Republican is condemning what he's calling the "messages of hate and bigotry" carried by the KKK and white supremacist groups.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's statement doesn't specifically address widely criticized remarks by President Donald Trump, who said white supremacists don't bear all the blame for last weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

McConnell says the groups behind the Charlottesville violence are planning a rally in Lexington, in his home state of Kentucky. He says "their messages of hate and bigotry are not welcome in Kentucky and should not be welcome anywhere in America."

Trump said there were "some very bad people" among the protesters. But he also said: "You also had people that were very fine people, on both sides."

McConnell says "there are no good neo-nazis."