Former vice president Joe Biden, in an effort to salvage his campaign from allegations of racism, claimed Friday in Chicago that President Donald Trump had called neo-Nazis “very fine people” and that he had never criticized the Ku Klux Klan.
Speaking at the convention of Rev. Jesse Jackson’s Rainbow PUSH Coalition, Biden said:
And look, there’s only one president I know that’s actually deliberately walked away from [the expectation of equality]. And that is Donald Trump.
Not a joke! Think about this. I don’t know about you, Jess, but I never thought that after all the progress we’ve been made, I ‘d see people marching out of fields, carrying torches, contorted faces, anger and hate, accompanied by white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan, met by decent, honorable people who said, “We don’t hate here.”
What happened? [A] clash ensued, a young woman died. And what did he say? When asked about it, he said, quote — no president’s ever said this — “there are very fine people in both groups” [sic]. He has yet to apologize — or criticize, or criticize the Ku Klux Klan or the white supremacists.”
Look, we have a president who promotes hate and division, has encouraged the poison of white supremacy. Our children are watching. Barack [Obama] was a president our kids not only could, but did, look up to. …
There are several falsehoods in Biden’s statement.
1. The neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and Ku Klux Klan members who marched in Charlottesville in August 2017 were met by some “decent, honorable people” — but also by violent, armed members of Antifa. The Washington Post noted: “Counterprotesters had also gathered early. Members of anti-fascist groups yelled at the rallygoers. Many of them also carried sticks and shields.” When the white nationalists charged them, “[c]ounterprotesters fought back, also swinging sticks, punching and spraying chemicals. Others threw balloons filled with paint or ink at the white nationalists. Everywhere, it seemed violence was exploding. The police did not move to break up the fights.” It is true that some protests — especially involving clergy — were nonviolent, but others were not.
2. A young woman did not simply “die.” Her name was Heather Heyer, and she was murdered by neo-Nazi James Fields, who deliberately drove his car into counter-protesters. (He was sentenced Friday to life in prison.)
3. “Very fine people” hoax. President Trump did not say “there are very fine people in both groups.” He specifically condemned the neo-Nazis and white supremacists. He was referring to non-violent protesters on either side of the issue of the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a public park, as well as non-violent protesters against the racist groups. But when Trump said, “You had some very bad people in that group, but you also had people that were very fine people, on both sides,” he added: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally.” Biden has lied about this since his campaign launch.
4. The day before that press conference, Trump delivered a televised statement from the White House in which he specifically criticized the Ku Klux Klan and the white supremacists in Charlottesville. Here are Trump’s exact words:
Trump makes statement about racism and neo-Nazis, KKK, and… other hate groups…calls them 'thugs and criminals.' pic.twitter.com/px3irsfcwI
— Gary Detman (@GaryDetmanNews) August 14, 2017
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.
We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.
Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed. Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love.
Those words address exactly the themes of racial equality and unity that Biden told his audience in Chicago that Trump had “deliberately walked away” from.
The truth is that Biden had a horrendous debate on Thursday night in Miami. Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) shone a light on his history of support for segregationists and opposition to the policy of busing.
He cannot walk away from his record, so he is trying to distract by lying about Trump.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.