Trump doubles down on 'both sides' criticism of Charlottesville violence

The US president said "you also had people that were very fine people - on both sides"

Trump doubles down on 'both sides' criticism of Charlottesville violence

Picture by: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP/Press Association Images

Donald Trump has doubled down on his claims that 'both sides' bear responsibility for the violence in Charlottesville over the weekend.

In a heated press conference, the US president claimed an 'alt-left' was also acting violently while counter-protesting against a group of right-wing demonstrators.

He told reporters: "You had a group on one side that was bad, and you had a group on the other side that was also very violent. Nobody wants to say that, but I'll say that right now."

He later added: "You also had people that were very fine people - on both sides."

He also insisted there are "two sides to a story", saying many of the right-wing protesters were demonstrating against the taking down of the statue of Confederate leader Robert E Lee.

When quizzed about his delayed response to the scenes in Virginia, President Trump said he wanted to see 'all the facts' before issuing a statement.

He suggested: "I didn't know [white nationalist] David Duke was there - I wanted to see the facts [...] I couldn't have made it sooner because I didn't know all of the facts.

"It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly."

He again denounced neo-nazis, and said the driver of a car that left counter-protester Heather Heyer dead did a "horrible, inexcusable thing".

President Trump faced widespread criticism - including from prominent Republican politicians - for his initial delay in directly denouncing white supremacists who were involved in Charlottesville.

He yesterday explicitly condemned hate groups as “repugnant” and declared racism to be evil.

He has faced increasing calls to fire adviser Steve Bannon in the wake of the protests, over the self-confessed role of Mr Bannon's former website Breitbart in encouraging the rise of the so-called alt-right.

Today, President Trump was ambiguous about his adviser's future in the administration, insisting he's a "good person" but adding that "we'll see what happens."

Meanwhile a tweet from Barack Obama following the violence in Charlottesville has become the most liked tweet of all time.

More than three million people have liked the message from the former US president - which quotes Nelson Mandela: