As Donald Trump defended neo-Nazis and white supremacists rallying behind a symbol of slavery and treason and assailed the anti-racist counter-protesters, there could be no doubt how he felt. He was furious, raging in defense of his people. And his people were neo-Nazis and KKK members. This is another of those pivotal moments that congressional Republicans have failed time and again. Republicans have stood by Trump through vile comment after vile comment in hopes that he could help them deliver their agenda of tax cuts for the wealthy and healthcare cuts for everyone else. What about now? What are House Speaker Paul Ryan and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell—the latter of whom’s wife was standing beside Trump as he ranted—going to say about Trump defending white supremacists?
Republican Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen condemned Trump’s rant:
But Ros-Lehtinen is retiring after 2018, so she doesn’t have a lot to lose. What are Republican lawmakers who hope to stay in Congress going to say about a press conference in which Trump, as one reporter described it, “defended Charlottesville harder than many *actual white nationalists* did”?
Republicans who stood by Trump through the Muslim ban and “grab ‘em by the pussy” and a million flirtations with white supremacists got us here. They got us to the KKK and neo-Nazis joining together and marching on Charlottesville confident that they had an ally in the White House. They got us to the president of the United States of America both-sidesing white supremacist violence and complaining that anti-racist counter-protesters failed to get a permit.
Paul Ryan, you own this. So does every Republican in the House.
Mitch McConnell, you own this. So does every Republican in the Senate.
Statements about how disappointed you are won’t cut it. Statements about how inappropriate it was won’t cut it. You own Trump until you put real distance between yourselves and him, not just mushy words.