President Donald Trump speaks during the “American Leadership in Emerging Technology” event in the East Room of the White House, Thursday, June 22, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

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Under-fire Trump denies saying neo-Nazis, protesters equivalent

Washington, August 17 – US President Donald Trump denied that he drew a moral equivalence between neo-Nazis and the people protesting them at a Virginia rally at the weekend, as his chief strategist branded the white nationalists who took part as “clowns.”

“Publicity seeking Lindsey Graham falsely stated that I said there is moral equivalency between the KKK, neo-Nazis & white supremacists, and people like Ms Heyer. Such a disgusting lie,” Trump wrote in a series of tweets early Thursday.
Graham, a Republican Senator from South Carolina, rebuked the president on Wednesday for “suggesting there is moral equivalency” between the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville and people like Heather Heyer, who was killed when a car was deliberately rammed into a crowd of counter-protesters.

Democrats and Republicans have denounced the president’s response to the attack, in which he cast blame on “both sides.”

“You had a group on one side that was bad. You had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that. I’ll say it right now,” he said in a combative press conference on Tuesday.

Trump’s embattled chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who has been accused of links to white nationalists, earlier described those who rallied in Virginia as “clowns” in a rare interview.

“Ethno-nationalism – it’s losers. It’s a fringe element. I think the media plays it up too much, and we got to help crush it,” he told The American Prospect magazine.

Bannon’s political future has been the subject of much speculation in Washington in recent weeks, with reports saying he had fallen out of favour with some in the White House and that his job as Trump’s chief strategist was in jeopardy.

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