Donald Trump

What was the Accusation?

On August 13, 2017, White Nationalist James Alex Fields, Jr. plowed into a crowd of protestors demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia.  One person was killed and 19 people were injured.  President Trump vacillated in his comments after the tragedy.  His initial response on the Saturday of the protest was, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence on many sides … on many sides.” After intense criticism over Trump’s “many sides,” comment, he provided a much stronger repudiation of the violence on Monday: “Racism is evil … and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”  In spite of his new scripted comments, Trump continued to defend his earlier comments and lashed out at the media arguing that he just “made additional remarks on Charlottesville and realize once again that the #Fake News Media will never be satisfied…truly bad people!” On Tuesday, he would come full circle and reiterate his earlier sentiments about multiple sides being to blame for the crisis: “I think there is blame on both sides. You look at both sides. I think there is blame on both sides…You had a group on one side that was bad and a group on the other side that was very violent.”

Key Apologia Strategies:

Denial, Attacking the Accuser, Differentiation



“I think there is 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.”

“I’ve condemned neo-Nazis. I’ve condemned many different groups. Not all of those people were neo-Nazis, believe me. Not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch.”


Hart, B. (2017, August 12). Trump blames ‘many sides’ for Virginia violence. New York Magazine. Retrieved from:

Shalby, C. (2017, August 15). From blaming ‘many sides’ to ‘racism is evil’ and back again, what Trump has said so far on Charlottesville. Los Angeles Times. Retrieved from:

Shear, M. D., & Haberman, M. (2017, August 15).  Trump defends initial remarks on Charlottesville; Again blames ‘both sides’. New York Times. Retrieved from: