HS Adviser Bossert ‘Proud’ of Trump’s Response to Charlottesville
By Sandy Fitzgerald
White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert (Mark Wilson/Getty Images)
White House Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert Sunday dismissed critics who say President Donald Trump did not adequately condemn white supremacists following violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia this weekend, saying that his comments were appropriate and adequate.
“This isn’t about President Trump,” Bossert told CNN “State of the Union” anchor Jake Tapper during a heated interview Sunday. “This is about a level of violence and hatred that could not be tolerated in this country.”
Bossert said he was with Trump Saturday when he made his statements about the riots, and he is “proud of the fact that he stood up and calmly looked into the camera and condemned this violence and bigotry in all its forms. This racial intolerance and racial bigotry cannot be condoned.”
Republicans and Democrats alike are slamming Trump, however, for his comments condemning racism and bigotry on “many sides” following the violent confrontations and after a man rammed counterprotesters with his car.
Bossert, though, on Sunday defended Trump, saying his comments were appropriate as the protests “turned into an unacceptable level of violence at all levels.”
“This wasn’t just some fighting,” said Bossert. “This turned into an unacceptable degree of violence and ended in the most tragic way possible. We have two police officers dead…we have a young woman that passed away and others critically injured.”
But, he insisted, the incidents are not about Trump, but about “a degree of violence and of hatred that cannot be tolerated in this country.”
Tapper, though, pointed out that Trump’s words have been praised by white supremacists and neo-nazis, including on a neo-nazi website that proclaimed “Trump comments were good. He said he loves us all. Also refused to answer a question about white nationalists supporting him. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
Bossart said such words of the “ignorant” mean little to him and should have less weight with Tapper and the media, but they don’t.
Trump, continued Bossert, believes Americans should have an open debate on racism and violence in the United States.
“This is unacceptable,” he said. “This violence cannot stand. He made that clear yesterday.”
Bossert said he does believe there were good people in Charlottesville to protest the removal or maintenance of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, but they showed up to find violent groups from both sides, “dressed in riot gear and prepared for violence.”
He also rejected Tapper’s argument that the counterprotesters did not kill anyone.
“I don’t for one moment and I won’t allow you for one second to put me in a position of being an apologist for someone who is now a charged murderer,” said Bossert. “This individual should face swift justice. The president of the United States shares that view. I know he does.”
Tapper, though, told Bossert he “decried both sides,” which Bossert denied.
“What I would decry is the individual that committed murder yesterday,” he said. “What I would not do, though, is quibble with this notion that any of this is acceptable. These groups showed up spewing hate. These groups showed up looking for violence.”