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President Donald Trump reaches into his suit jacket to read from a prepared speech. Pablo Martinez Monsivais via PA Images

Donald Trump doubles back - says there was 'blame on both sides' at Virginia

He also defended his advisor Steve Bannon as “not a racist”.

PRESIDENT DONALD TRUMP has given an extraordinary press conference this evening in which he compared the US to a third world country, said there was “blame on both sides” in Charlottesville and said companies have to stop making their products in countries like Ireland.

In a press conference at Trump Tower this evening, Trump lashed out at questions about his response to the violent white supremacist rally in Charlottesville that ended in bloodshed.

He went back to his original statement on the white supremacist marches in the Virginia town, by saying there was “blame on both sides”.

“There’s blame on both sides, I have no doubt about it, and you have no doubt about it,” he said, adding that there were good people on both sides too.

Donald Trump 3 Sky News Sky News

“There are two sides to a story,” Trump told reporters, adding that two groups of people had attacked each other with bats.

What about the alt-left coming at the alt-right swinging clubs in their hands?

When asked why he waited until yesterday to explicitly condemn hate groups present in Charlottesville, Trump said he wanted to be careful not to make a “quick statement” without all the facts.

“If the press was not fake and were honest, the press would say that what I said was very nice,” he said.

Tweet by @Donald J. Trump Donald J. Trump / Twitter Donald J. Trump / Twitter / Twitter

He called the suspected Nazi sympathizer who plowed his car into a crowd of anti-racism protesters, leaving one woman dead, a “disgrace to himself, his family and this country”, but said it was for the courts to decide if he was a terrorist or a murderer.

The president also defended his controversial far-right chief strategist Steve Bannon, saying: “I like Mr Bannon. He’s a friend of mine… He is a good man. He is not a racist.”

He also added that wanting the removal of General Robert E Lee’s statue (a leader of confederate forces during the US Civil War) seemed extreme, adding “…Stonewall Jackson is coming down, is it George Washington next week?”

Former KKK leader David Duke has responded to Trump’s statement this evening by thanking him “for his honesty”.

“Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth about #Charlottesville & condemn the leftist terrorists in BLM/Antifa,” he wrote on Twitter.

- With reporting from AFP

Read: Donald Trump calls KKK and neo-Nazis ‘repugnant’ in new statement on Virginia marches

Read: String of big business CEOs step down from Trump’s advisory council in wake of Charlottesville

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