Vermont's Congressional Delegation Condemns Trump's Comments On Charlottesville Protests

Aug 16, 2017

The three members of Vermont's congressional delegation have criticized President Donald Trump for his comments about this past weekend's violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

The president's comments on Tuesday night were a sharp departure from the more moderate tone he expressed earlier in the week when he condemned racism in this country and the work of neo-Nazi groups and the Ku Klux Klan.

In his latest comments, Trump blamed the violence in Charlottesville on both sides — the right-wing groups who protested the removal of a statue of Robert E. Lee and the civil rights activists who supported taking it down.

Sen. Patrick Leahy says he's appalled at Trump's analysis of this situation.

"This is not moral leadership but what President Trump was doing was just fanning the hatred that goes on,” said Leahy.

Leahy says Trump's comments are an effort to legitimize the work of radical right-wing groups.

"You condemn them and you don't equate them with others who are just involved in peaceful dissent," said Leahy. "The Nazis, the alt-right, the white supremacists — they have a hateful ideology and there's no place for that in the United States."

Rep. Peter Welch says he thinks the president revealed some of his core political beliefs with his comments.

"It's pretty clear from his words that where his heart is, is giving support to a radical fringe and we have a fringe in this country that is white supremacist, believes in racial superiority,” said Welch.

"This is not moral leadership but what President Trump was doing was just fanning the hatred that goes on." — Sen. Patrick Leahy

And Welch says Trump is leading the country down a very dangerous path.

"No high political leader should condone political statements that are going to cause the erosion of rights and sowing the seeds of hatred against fellow citizens, and Donald Trump is very dangerously in the territory of doing that,” said Welch.

Sen. Bernie Sanders responded to the president's Tuesday press conference in a written statement: "President Trump. You are embarrassing our country and the millions of Americans who fought and died to defeat Nazism. The violence in Charlottesville ... was caused by Neo-Nazis and white supremacists who are attempting to spread their hateful and racist ideology."

When it comes to Confederate statues, both Welch and Leahy agree that those statues should be taken down.

In the National Statuary Hall that's located in the Capitol in Washington, states are represented by two people and each state selects their individuals on a rotating basis.

Currently, Vermont honors both Ethan Allen and former U.S. senator and abolitionist Jacob Collamer. One of the Mississippi statues is Jefferson Davis, the president of the Confederacy.

Only an individual state can remove one of its statues. Until Mississippi takes that action, Leahy thinks a sign should be put up.

"If it's going to stay there, there should be a sign by it to say that he was traitor to his own country, he wanted to violate our Constitution,” said Leahy.