HARTFORD, CT — Moments after a Hartford press conference in which U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal denounced Republican President Donald Trump’s remarks regarding the tumult in Charlottesville, one of the president’s top business councils disbanded. Then, minutes later, Trump tweeted he was disbanding both councils.
Business leaders and their shareholders and employees had become increasingly concerned about Trump’s comments Tuesday when he said, “I think there’s blame on both sides” for the violence of Charlottesville. Trump even went so far as to say that there were “very fine people” at the white power rally.
“Americans find these comments to be repugnant to basic American values,” Blumenthal said of Trump Tuesday. “The blame is not on both sides.”
Blumenthal said “no fine people carry Swastikas, or burn torches, or shout epithets and spew hatred in the way that white supremacists, and Neo-Nazis, and KKK members did in Charlottesville. There is no moral equivalence between the white supremacists and the peaceful protesters who came to express themselves.”
Blumenthal said he agreed with his Republican colleague, U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, who tweeted, “The organizers of events which inspired & led to #charlottesvilleterroristattack are 100% to blame for a number of reasons.”
Blumenthal said he thought “racial and religious bigotry,” along with the “instincts that gave rise to them,” had been eradicated in the U.S., but President Trump has been voicing them again.
Connecticut’s senior senator said Trump clearly sided with the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis in his press conference Tuesday.
In the next day or two, Blumenthal said he would also be writing U.S. Attorney General Jeff Sessions to tell him he should pursue an investigation into individuals who helped and supported the man behind the wheel of a vehicle that killed Heather Heyer and wounded 19 others.
“The killer behind the wheel of that car did not act in isolation,” Blumenthal said. “He may have acted as part of a broader conspiracy.”
He said there are laws that apply to civil rights conspiracies and penalties include imprisonment.
“There should be a recognition that these kinds of acts constitute domestic terrorism,” Blumenthal said.
He said the blame for the brutality and bloodshed in Charlottesville belongs on one side.
Connecticut Republican Party Chairman JR Romano said there’s no place for Neo-Nazis, white supremacists, racism, and hatred in America, but he thinks there needs to be a conversation about “violent clashes between extremist groups.”
He said he doesn’t assign every belief held by the “Antifa” to Blumenthal or U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and he’s sick of the Democratic Party assigning every thing Trump says or believes to the Republican Party. He said former President Barack Obama wasn’t held responsible for violence committed in the name of the members of the Black Lives Matters movement.
“It’s time we start talking about love, community and respect for people and we use that to measure them on the content of their character,” Romano said.
He said they should be coming together at a time like this “instead of fanning the flames of political divisiveness.”
The “Antifa” Romano refers to is short for the anti-fascist movement that rejects the idea of turning to authorities to halt the advance of white supremacy. They feel it’s necessary to stop white nationalists groups before they spread, even if it means they have to use violence.
Blumenthal said incitement of violence is not protected by the First Amendment, adding that incitement is what the “Unite the Right” rally did. He said they weren’t there to simply protest the removal of the Robert E. Lee statue. “They were there to fight, to brutalize, to bring bloodshed, and that kind of hatred and violence has no place in the public square and in our nation.”
Blumenthal said the counter-protesters who came to express their opposition to the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis and KKK were deprived of their rights.
“The blame was 100 percent on the side of the Neo-Nazis and the white supremacists and the klansmen and white nationalists,” Blumenthal said. “Praising them is something the president of the United States should never have done.”
Following a vigil in Stamford Wednesday, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said that since Trump isn’t going to stand up for American values, “America’s got to do the work of the president.”
“Unhinged” was the word Malloy used to describe Trump’s comments Tuesday at Trump Tower in New York.
“We have to call it what it is,” Malloy said. “It’s hate mongering.”
He said the white supremacists and Neo-Nazis are filled with hate and anyone who tolerates hate is responsible for it, adding that the only hope we have in America is that “the populous will rise up and reject it.”