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Trump just hit a new low

Dana Milbank on

Trump, who this week retweeted an "alt-right" conspiracy theorist and ally of white supremacists, continues to employ in his White House not just Bannon and Stephen Miller, two darlings of the alt-right, but also Sebastian Gorka, who uses the platform to defend the embattled white man.

"It's this constant, 'Oh, it's the white man. It's the white supremacists. That's the problem.' No, it isn't," Gorka said in an interview with Breitbart days before the Charlottesville mayhem. "Go to the Middle East, and tell me what the real problem is today." At an inaugural ball in January, Gorka wore a medal from the Hungarian nationalist organization Vitezi Rend, a longtime anti-Semitic group that claimed Gorka as one of its own. (He denies it.)

It's more than words. The administration proposed eliminating the "Countering Violent Extremism" program; officials argued that the effort should target only Islamist radicalization, not right-wing extremism. In June, the Trump administration canceled a grant to a group called Life After Hate, which rehabilitates neo-Nazis. "At a time when this is the biggest threat in our country, to pull funding from the only organization in the United States helping people disengage from this is pretty suspect to me," the group's co-founder Christian Picciolini told me.

And now we have the spectacle of the president defending the character and motives of the neo-Nazi demonstrators in Charlottesville.

Trump, who has issued scores of tweets without benefit of accurate information, explained his initial unwillingness to single out the white supremacist who drove into a crowd of demonstrators: "Before I make a statement, I like to know the facts."

Trump, who has criticized others for failing to use the phrase "radical Islamic terrorism," declined to call the incident terrorism.

Asked about the culpability of the "alt-right" in the Charlottesville attack, Trump replied: "Okay, what about the alt-left that came charging them?"

Political violence, by anybody, is wrong. But to equate neo-Nazis with those who oppose them is, even for our alt-right president, a new low.

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Follow Dana Milbank on Twitter, @Milbank.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group

 

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