Kansas City area lawmakers strongly rejected President Donald Trump’s claim there were “fine people” on both sides when white supremacists violently clashed with police and counter protesters in Virginia last weekend.
Trump faced criticism for not more strongly condemning the actions of neo-Nazis and other white nationalist groups at protests in Charlottesville, Va., where one counter protester and two police officers died.
Trump told reporters Tuesday that there was blame on both sides and “some very fine people on both sides.”
U.S. Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, a Kansas City Democrat, said he began shouting at the television when he watched Trump make his remarks.
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“And to say that there are good people on both sides? I have never, ever in my life seen a good Nazi,” said Cleaver, who noted that his uncle was a Tuskegee Airman during World War II.
U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran, a Republican from Kansas, said in a statement, “white supremacy, bigotry and racism have absolutely no place in our society and no one — especially the President of the United States — should ever tolerate it.”
Cleaver said he was furious over the president’s attempt to create “a false equivalency” between the two sides and quipped that Trump’s natural inclination appears to make matters worse.
“I grew up in Texas. I’m a child of the civil rights movement in the South,” Cleaver said. “And I don’t even think I’ve heard some of the most celebrated segregationists try to equate civil rights groups with what the Klan was doing.”
U.S. Rep. Kevin Yoder’s office released a statement Tuesday evening.
“I continue to strongly disagree with the president,” the Overland Park Republican said. “As I said on Saturday, we must be clear and direct. White supremacy is an evil ideology. There are not two sides to racism and bigotry.”