President Donald Trump's most recent remarks on the Charlottesville protests that turned deadly have prompted some Republicans to turn their backs on him.
During a press conference on Aug. 15 at Trump Tower in New York, Trump appeared unhinged as he suggested to reporters that the "alt-left" shares the blame for the events that took place in Charlottesville on Aug. 12 that left one counter protester dead, the Daily Mail reported.
"What about the alt-left that came charging at... Excuse me. What about the alt-left that came charging at the, as you say, the alt-right. Do they have any semblance of guilt?" the president asked reporters. "Let me ask you this. What about the fact they came charging -- that they came charging, with clubs in their hands, swinging clubs? Do they have any problem? I think they do.
"So, you know, as far as I'm concerned, that was a horrible, horrible day. Wait a minute. I'm not finished. I'm not finished, fake news. That was a horrible day."
When asked if he was putting what he called the "alt-left" and white supremacists on the "same moral plane," Trump insisted that there was "another side" to the story.
"You had a group on one side and you had a group on the other and they came at each other with clubs and it was vicious and it was horrible and it was a horrible thing to watch, but there is another side," the president said. "There was a group on this side -- you can call them the left, you've just called them the left -- that came violently attacking the other group, so you can say what you want but that's the way it is."
The president then said that some of the people who gathered at the rally were there to protest the removal of the Gen. Robert E. Lee statue. He then asked if George Washington and Thomas Jefferson should also have their statues removed because they were slave owners like Robert E. Lee.
"You're changing history. You're changing culture and you had people, and I'm not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists because they should be condemned, totally," Trump said. "But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists, OK? And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly. Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people, but you also had troublemakers and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets and with the baseball bats. You got a lot of bad people in the other group, too."
The president's previous two statements on Charlottesville sparked furious backlash from critics. In his first statement, he failed to identify the white supremacist hate groups that were involved in the rally and insisted that there was "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides," CNN reported. He followed that up with a statement on Aug. 14, where he called out the "KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups," but many felt the damage was already done.
Now, after his statements on Aug. 15, several Republicans have blasted Trump for once again blaming both sides.
"The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons," Republican Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida wrote in a series of tweets. "They are adherents of an evil ideology which argues certain people are inferior because of race, ethnicity or nation of origin.
"When entire movement built on anger & hatred towards people different than you, it justifies & ultimately leads to violence against them. These groups today use SAME symbols & same arguments of #Nazi & #KKK, groups responsible for some of worst crimes against humanity ever.
"Mr. President, you can't allow #WhiteSupremacists to share only part of blame. They support idea[s] which cost nation & world so much pain. The #WhiteSupremacy groups will see being assigned only 50% of blame as a win. We can not allow this old evil to be resurrected."
"We must be clear. White supremacy is repulsive," House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted. "This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity."
"Blaming 'both sides' for #Charlottesville?! No," Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen of Florida tweeted. "Back to relativism when dealing with KKK, Nazi sympathizers, white supremacists? Just no."
"'Very fine people' do not participate in rallies with groups chanting racist and anti-Semitic slogans and displaying vile symbols of hate," tweeted Michigan Republican Justin Amash.
"There's no moral equivalency between racists and Americans standing up to defy hate and bigotry," added Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona. "The President of the United States should say so."
While reactions to Trump's comments were widely negative throughout all sides of the political spectrum, there were some groups that approved of the president's statements.
"Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa," tweeted Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke.
"Trump's statement was fair and down to earth," wrote Richard Spencer, another white supremacist who has previously called for "peaceful ethnic cleansing." "#Charlottesville could have been peaceful, if police did its job."
The White House also defended Trump, saying he was "entirely correct" to blame "both sides," according to a talking points memo that was distributed to Republican congress members and leaked to multiple media outlets, CBS News reported.
"Leaders and the media in our country should join the president in trying to unite and heal our country rather than incite more division," the memo went on to state.