At his Tuesday night rally in Phoenix, President Trump gave a speech defending his Charlottesville statements, attacking the media and threatening a government shutdown over the border wall debate while promoting his “Make America Great Again” slogan. It could’ve been a scene from the 2016 campaign trail if it weren’t August 2017.
Not long into his speech, he spoke about Charlottesville, stating he stood with his supporters “in condemnation of the thugs who perpetrate hatred and violence,” again avoiding making a direct link with the cause of that violence to neo-Nazis.
He then continued on, bashing what he called “the very dishonest media” then taking a long pause to listen to the boos and chants from the crowd that ensured and accusing reporters of not telling a full or accurate story. Trump claimed they’ve fabricated content and sources, leaving out facts and failing to mention that he “spoke out forcefully against hatred, bigotry and violence and strongly condemned the neo-Nazis, the white supremacists and the KKK.”
After reminding everyone he has a home in Charlottesville, the president proceeded to read out loud his first statement on the events, which did not condemn neo-Nazis, white supremacy or the KKK, but only “hatred, bigotry and violence” overall.
Having defended his comments, adding to the long back-and-fourth change of responses to the white supremacist rally that killed one woman and left more than a dozen others injured, he moved to onto other points reminiscent of his campaign, vowing to build a border wall on the Mexican border and threatening to shut down the government if it doesn’t happen.
"If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.
In a moment that shocked some viewers, Trump implied he would pardon “Sheriff Joe,” referring to Joe Arpaio, a former Maricopa County, Arizona sheriff who was found guilty after ignoring a court order that he stop racially profiling Latinos.
However, the president suggested Arpaio was just doing his job. “He should have had a jury,” Trump said. “But I’ll make a prediction. I think he’s gonna be just fine. But, but, I won’t do it tonight because I don’t want to cause any controversy. Is that ok? But Sheriff Joe can feel good.”
A full re-play of the speech may be found here.