Trump has 'inside information' on who protested in Charlottesville, says Falwell Jr. in president's defense

Jerry Falwell Jr. defended Trump's saying 'fine people' were on both sides.

ByABC News
August 20, 2017, 11:29 AM

— -- Evangelical Christian leader Jerry Falwell Jr. defended President Donald Trump's comment that there were "very fine people on both sides" in the Charlottesville protests, saying the president "had information I didn't have" about who participated in the demonstration against removal of a Confederate statue in the Virginia city.

"He has inside information that I don't have," Falwell told ABC News Chief Global Affairs Correspondent Martha Raddatz on "This Week" Sunday. "I don't know if there were historical purists [at the protests] who were trying to preserve some statues. I don't know."

The Liberty University president added of the president, "I think he saw videos of who was there. I think he was talking about what he had seen … He had information I didn’t have.”

Falwell was referring to Trump's remarks at a press conference Tuesday about the Charlottesville violence that left a 32-year-old woman dead.

"You have some very bad people in that group," he said of the "Unite the Right" gathering Aug. 12 in Charlottesville that included white nationalists, neo-Nazis and KKK members and which was met with counterprotests. "But you also had people that were very fine people on both sides," the president said.

Falwell was an early Trump supporter who endorsed the billionaire businessman even before the crucial 2016 Iowa caucuses. He is also a member of the president's Evangelical Advisory Board.

On the day after Trump's press conference, Falwell on Twitter said the president made a "bold truthful" statement.

Asked by Raddatz what he meant, Falwell said, "The bold and truthful statements I was referring to were his willingness to call evil and terrorism by its name, to identify the groups, the Nazis, the KKK, the white supremacists. And that's something a leader should do. And I admire him for that."

He said many people missed the substance of Trump’s comments.

"The American people have gotten sort of thin-skinned and I think they need to listen to the substance of what he said," Falwell said.

Falwell said one reason he supported Trump in the crowded GOP presidential primary in 2016 was, "He doesn't say what's politically correct. He says what is in his heart, what he believes, and sometimes that gets him in trouble."

He added of the president, "He does not have a racist bone in his body. I know him well."

Raddatz asked specifically about the president's remarks about the deadly car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, "Why hasn't he called the attack in Charlottesville domestic terrorism?"

Falwell responded that the president "left the door open" to using that label.

“He said that is something for the officials to determine. Call it what you want. He said it was pure evil,” he told Raddatz. “He said you can call it terrorism, you can call it evil; you can call it murder. I'm not sure exactly what his words were. But he never said it was not terrorism.”

“Do you think he could be a little more careful in his words or not?” Raddatz pressed.

"All of us could," Falwell said. "But at least he's not politically correct. He's not so concerned about rehearsing and focus grouping every statement he makes and that's one of the reasons I supported him."

Falwell also said, "I think the president has made it very clear that there is no moral equivalency between what the counterprotesters did ...and somebody driving his car into a crowd because he hates people of other races."

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