Donald Trump has been criticized for lukewarm condemnation of neo-Nazi groups, the KKK, and white supremacists in general. Now an investigative journalist is releasing a book that says the president wishes he had never condemned those groups at all. In fact, Trump reportedly called it “the biggest [expletive] mistake I’ve ever made.”
Robert Woodward, an investigative journalist for the Washington Post, has covered presidential politics from Watergate (in which he teamed up with Carl Bernstein on original reporting) to a book on conflicts within the Obama administration over handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. His latest book, Fear: Trump In The White House, is due for release one week from today, and the advance excerpts are already gaining notice.
According to The Hill, one of these excerpts focuses on Donald Trump’s fuming over his public response to the white supremacist rally in Charlottesville in August of 2017 that left one protester dead, when a rally attendee drove his car into a crowd.
While Trump initially sidestepped directing condemnation toward white supremacists and neo-Nazis, Woodward says that his advisors pressed him to do so — resulting in an additional press conference, where he did address those groups by name. An NPR transcript quotes Trump as listing neo-Nazis, the KKK, and white supremacists, and calling racism evil.
Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.
However, this quote came days after the rally, and Trump had already held a press conference blaming “…hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” — a remark that left supporters and opponents alike feeling that Trump had laid blame on those who came to stand against racism.
Woodward’s book contends that the second speech, condemning the white supremacists specifically, came only at the urging of Trump’s advisors and that he’s still sorry he did it. Immediately afterward, Trump reportedly told aides, “That was the biggest [expletive] mistake I’ve ever made,” and went on to call it the worst speech he had ever given.
Further, when Gary Cohn, the National Economic Council Director at the time, tried to resign over Trump’s handling of the deadly rally, Trump reportedly called the resignation an act of treason and kept Cohn on staff. Cohn, a Jewish man, was already concerned after his daughter had found a swastika painted on her college dorm room.
Donald Trump hasn’t publicly responded to Bob Woodward’s book about him, although his strong negative opinion of the Washington Post, the publication that employs Woodward, is well-known.
As for Woodward himself, Trump has alternately praised the journalist for columns criticizing Obama and defending Trump for being upset about the Steele Dossier and complained about “only the Obama White House” being able to “attack” the writer.
Trump’s opinions of Woodward’s journalism may become more pointed as he learns more of the contents of Fear: Trump In The White House — and as the rest of America learns what Woodward was able to discover about the inner workings of the Trump Administration.