Shortly before President Trump delivered a short speech in the Treaty Room of the White House days after the murder of a protester by a white supremacist in Charlottesville, White House aides Steven Miller and Omarosa Manigault were seen waking from the Old Executive Office Building, down a driveway past the press briefing room and into the White House.
Moments later, Trump would deliver an address that was carried live on cable that many say should have been voiced at least 48 hours before. After a young woman, Heather Heyer, was murdered by a white supremacist on August 12, Trump avoided calling out the KKK, neo-Nazis, the alt-right or white supremacists by name.
Instead Trump denounced violence “on many sides.” Reaction was swift as his delay was seen as a not so subtle wink to white supremacists and racists. In only his seventh month in office, the moment was a massive blow to the moral authority of the Trump presidency.
The neo-Nazi publication The Daily Stormer applauded Trump‘s “many sides” comments. “He says he loves us all,” the racist publication concluded.
“This is Trump’s lowest, most disgraceful day in office. We should expect worse,” tweeted MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough on August 12 after Trump’s “many sides” equivocations.
Many point out significant moments in Trump’s distant and recent past regarding race.
The President’s father, Fred Trump, was arrested in 1927 in Queens, New York at a riot after a KKK rally. In 1973, his father’s company was sued by the Department of Justice in the 1970s for housing discrimination. In 1989 Trump took out a $85,000 full page ad in the New York Times in calling for the death penalty for five Black men who would later be declared innocent.
Last year there were several violent incidents at Trump campaign rallies that had racist elements. On March 11, 2016 in Fayettville, N.C., Trump supporter James McGraw sucker punched Rakeem Jones, who was departing the rally in protest. Another particularly ugly incident at a Trump call occurred when a young Black female student, Kashiya Nwanguma, of the University of Louisville was pushed around and man handled by Matthew Heimbach, a noted white supremacist. Heimbach was wearing a red “Make America Great Again” hat during the incident.
Now white supremacists are now openly saying they are marching and becoming more vibrant in Trump’s name. Trump has not stated they their support in unwelcomed. Trump was handed an easy opportunity to disavow racists, the KKK and white supremacists during a February 2016 interview on CNN and instead responded that he didn’t know who David Duke of the KKK was.
Regardless, Duke, a well known professional white supremacist and former KKK grand dragon, is certainly aware of Donald Trump. On the same day a white supremacist murdered Heather Heyer in Charlottesville, Duke, who was also in Charlottesville, told reporters of the Charlottesville “Unite the Right” rally that:
“This represents a turning point for the people of this country. We are determined to take our country back. We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
“Mr President, it’s not how long racist attitudes have been around but how your language has sown to the wind & now reaps the whirlwind,” tweeted Rev. Dr. William Barber the same afternoon.
With Trump’s polling number gradually falling and a growing sense that he will never act truly presidential. A gradual disconnect between members of the Republican party and President Trump is becoming more public. On August 14, a Gallup poll showed Trump’s polling numbers at 34 percent approval.
The number is the lowest of Trump’s presidency so far.