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Anderson Cooper on Tuesday delivered a withering rebuke of Donald Trump’s widely criticized remarks blaming “both sides” for the deadly violence in Charlottesville, Virginia — saying the president “revealed so clearly who and what he really is” and “seemed to go out of his way to whitewash the nature of what was, after all, an explicitly white power rally.”
Beginning his CNN program Anderson Cooper 360 with a lengthy monologue, Cooper said, “We normally start off the broadcast saying ‘good evening,’ but tonight there doesn’t seem to be much that is good about this evening, because a few hours ago the President of the United States revealed so clearly who and what he really is. Today the President of the United States ripped open wounds that have barely begun healing in Charlottesville on a subject, race, that has tormented this country from the very beginning and nearly torn it apart more than once.”
Speaking in a measured but firm tone, Cooper said Trump also revealed “whether he can ever be a president for all people or just for white ones, a president for people of all beliefs or just the alt-right. Today President Trump showed the world exactly how little he knows or cares about U.S. history. He showed the world about how much a mother’s loss matters to him when weighed against whether or not she praised him. He showed the world how far he’ll go to avoid admitting he’s ever made a mistake.”
Cooper’s takedown came amid a torrent of disapproval over Trump’s combative press conference Tuesday in which he defended his initial response to the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville that left one counter-protestor dead. Equating white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and KKK members with the so-called alt-left, Trump said, “You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. But I’ll say it right now. You had a group on the other side that came charging in without a permit and they were very, very violent.”
Trump’s comments were swiftly condemned by politicians, celebrities, the NAACP, and ordinary citizens.
Further in his monologue, Cooper upbraided Trump for downplaying the actions of hate groups: “‘Both sides had some bad apples’ is what the president is saying. ‘Both sides were violent.’ But today the president seemed to go out of his way to whitewash the nature of what was, after all, an explicitly white power rally.”
Cooper went on to note one person who praised Trump’s comments — white supremacist and former KKK leader David Duke, who was at the rally.
Watch Cooper’s full remarks above.