White House counselor Kellyanne Conway defended President Trump on Sunday over renewed criticism of his comments following the 2017 violence in Charlottesville, Va. – arguing that the president had “condemned white nationalism” and that his words following the incident has been distorted for political gain.
Trump was slammed by both sides of the aisle for his remarks in the summer of 2017 that there were "very fine people on both sides" during the white nationalist "Unite the Right" rally in Charlottesville, where participants had chanted phrases like "Jews will not replace us."
"Well, the irony is that he condemned white nationalism and neo-Nazis and the KKK during the Charlottesville incident," Conway said on CNN's "State of the Union" on Sunday. Conway added that Trump’s “very fine people” comment was in reference to “the debate over removing statues.”
She added: "He was not talking about the weekend at all."
While Trump was largely panned at the time for his comments, those words have come under renewed scrutiny after former Vice President Joe Biden launched his Democratic presidential campaign by condemning them.
Biden blasted Trump's "moral equivalence between those spreading hate and those with the courage to stand against it" and declared the election a "battle for the soul of this nation."
Biden is positioning himself as the anti-Trump, an experienced elder statesman ready to restore stability to Washington.
Conway’s defense on the president comes days after Trump himself tried to downplay the renewed controversy – arguing that he was referring to some who were protesting the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee, the Confederate general.
Trump praised Lee as "a great general, everybody knows that."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.