SPECIAL REPORT: President Trump remarks turn from infrastructure to Charlottesville response

Trump defended his initial statement that he made about the violence in Charlottesville on Saturday, saying that he wanted to make sure that he had the facts before speaking again on the issue.
18:24 | 08/15/17

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Transcript for SPECIAL REPORT: President Trump remarks turn from infrastructure to Charlottesville response
This is an ABC news special room. Now report. Do you good news. Good afternoon and we come on the air this out because of breaking news from trump tower here in New York City we have been monitoring comments made by president trump just a short time ago those comments. Come in the wake of what we witnessed in Charlottesville over the weekend he was. Speaking to reporters extensively about infrastructure and his hopes for an infrastructure plan for America moving forward. But almost immediately the questions began to turn to his reaction to Charlottesville the fact that it took 48 hours before he actually singled out groups. Involved and what we witnessed in Charlotte's foale and we want to play for you part of the president our team is standing by. Here's what the president said just moments ago. If you have any questions please feel free to ask. Yeah. Because they're not take heed their job seriously as it pertains to this country. We want jobs manufacturing that this country if you look at some of those people that you're talking about their outside of the country there having. A lot of their product made outside if you look at Merck is an example take a look where excuse me. Take a look at where their product is made it's made outside of our country we want products made in the country and I have to tell you some of the folks that will leave their leaving out of embarrassment. Because they make their products outside and I've been lecturing them including the gentleman that you're referring to about you have to bring it back to this country. You can't do it necessarily in Ireland and all of these other places you have to bring this work back to this country. That's what I want I want manufacturing. To be back into the United States so that. American workers can benefit. I didn't win well what I'd anyway. I didn't write. To make sure. Unlike most politicians. That what I said was correct not make a quick statement the statement I made on Saturday the first statement. Was a fine statement but you don't make statements. That direct unless you know the fact. It takes a little while to get the facts you still don't know the facts. And it's a very very. Important process to me and it's a very important statement so I don't want to go quickly and just make a statement for the sake of making a political statement. I want to know the facts if you go back to my cracked. I brought I brought it. I brought him. As I said I'm remember this Saturday. We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious. Display of hatred bigotry and violence. It has no place in American that I went on from there now here's a thing as to the kid excuse me take it niceties. Here's the thing. When I make a statement I like to be correct I want the facts this event just happened in fact a lot of the event didn't even happened yet as we was speaking. This event just happen. Before I make a statement I need the facts so I don't want to rush into a statement so making the statement when I made it was excellent in fact. The young woman who I hear is a fantastic young woman and it was on NBC. Her mother wrote me. Shannon. Through I guess Twitter social media. The nicest things and it very much appreciated that I issues a fine. Really actually any credible young woman but her mother on Twitter thanked me for what I said. And honestly if the press we're not fake and it was honest the press would've said what I said was very nice but unlike you. Disney I'd like you and I like the media. Before I make a statement I like to know the facts. It is how to pick up a hundred. How about it it's. Fair to say but. Moment. He green once again. Not at all I think the country look you take a look. I've created over a million jobs in some president. The country is booming the stock market is setting records we have the highest employment numbers we've ever had in the history of our country. We're doing record business we have the highest levels of enthusiasm. So the head of Wal-Mart who I know it's very nice guy was making a political statement I mean. Anyway you know life because I want Q. Nation who have an army statement that the statement is correct and there was no way. There was no way of making a correct statement that early I had to see the facts unlike a lot of reporters. Unlike. I know David duke was there I wanted to see the facts. And the facts as they started coming out. Were very well stated a fact everybody said his statement was beautiful if you would've made it sort of that would have been good. I couldn't have made it sooner because I didn't know all of the facts frankly people still don't know all of the facts. Excuse me excuse me. It was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly because about what do made a fast seven and the first statement was made. Without knowing much other than what we were seeing the second statement was made after with knowledge with great knowledge there's still things excuse me. There's still things that people done now I want to make his statement with knowledge I want to know the facts and I. Two questions was this terrorism and tell us a feeling that your kids I think an eight driver of the car. Is a disgrace to himself his family in this country. And that is you can call it terrorism. You can call it murder. You call it whatever you want. I would just call it as the fastest one to come up with a good verdict that's what I'd call it. Because there is a question is it murders a terrorism. And then you get into legal semantics. The driver of the car. He's a murderer. And what he did was a horrible horrible inexcusable thing. But. I never spoken to bin Laden. Probably what you're yet yet I'll well. Seattle. I like Vista that he's a friend them. But mr. Bennett came on very late you know that I went through seventeen. Senators governors and I want all the primaries. Mr. Bennett came on very much later than that. And I like him he's a good man. He is not a racist I can tell you that he's a good person he actually gets a very unfair press in that regard. We'll see what happens with mr. Bannon but he's a good person and I think the press streets and frankly very unfairly. Defend your ass security advisory HR McMaster again. The last time he called Keating and Lincoln Senator McCain the all sitting even when. And he's going to. Have each other and didn't. I was getting good health care. Paint CNN that all right is behind these attacks and he linked that same route to those who perpetrated it. That we. I don't know I can't tell you I'm sure Senator McCain must know what he's talking about. But when you say the altar right. Defied all right to me you define it I think that's a good. We need to find them at the scene they want to. Excuse me what about the alt left they came charging at the as you say the Albright do they have any. Semblance of guilt this. I ask you this what about the fact that came charging that they came charging with clubs in the hand swinging clubs do they have any. Problem I think they do it's I. Sand that was a horrible horrible day. Wait a minute I'm not finished. I'm not finish fake news that was a horrible day. I watched those very closely much more closely than you people watched it. And you have. Yeah you had a group on one side that was bad and you had a group and the other side that was also very violent. And nobody wants to say that I'll say it right now. The latter group. You at a group and the other side that came charging in without a permit. And they were very very violent. What you called all left is the same as you enough. I of those people all of those people excuse me I've condemned. Neo Nazis I've condemned many different groups but not all of those people. We're neo Nazis believe me not all of those people were white supremacists by any stretch though it. Also there they want to protest. The taking down of a statue property Italy so excuse me. And you take a look at some of the groups that you see. And you know it if you are honest reporters which in many cases you're not but many of those people were there to protest. The taking down of the statue of Robert. This week it's Robert. I notice that Stonewall Jackson's coming down. I wonder is it George Washington next week and is it Thomas Jefferson the week after you know you while you're really you have to ask yourself where does it stop. There to protest excuse me. You take a look the night before. They went there to protest the taking down of the statue of rob really infrastructure question. Very contentious moments there at trump tower president trump taking questions on his reaction. Teen events that America witnessed in Charlottesville Virginia over the weekend the president saying I did not wait too long that he wanted to. The facts before he made that statement that second statement to America obviously there was the initial statement and heavy criticism that followed because he did not. In his initial response points to be specific groups that were involved in some of the horrific scenes we saw in Charlottesville. He went on to talk about. Reaction to the CEO of Wal-Mart who was at said you missed an opportunity to bring the country together. He said I did not miss that opportunity you're looking at pictures this obviously was the evening before what really unfolded there on Saturday. In Charlottesville and he said. That some of those people you have a lot of people who were innocently pro testing when he. When we see those pictures there of the night before they had a permit he went on to say to reporters in questions that followed what you just saw there he also asked what about the all left. What can be said about then did they not come charging into the scene as well due date. Due date owns some of the responsibility in so many words I'm paraphrasing there. But then asked about the other folks who who came and responded to these protests in Charlottesville do days. Do they deserve any of the blame that was the questioning that he began to ask as reporters were standing there asking him about his response and whether or not. But he missed an opportunity to try to unite America I do want to bring in Mary Bruce because. Mary you were right there at trump tower you're now outside. A very contentious seen as I mentioned but the president standing firm behind his statement saying he needed the time. The facts he said. To put that statement together although you have reported and our White House team has reported. But the First Lady responded you balk at trump responded over the weekend the vice president Mike Pence responded. And then the president responded. Saying he needed the facts. So obviously there's a question that remains about why so many others were able to respond. The talk to us about what you witnessed there in the lobby and the fact that the president is standing firm. David this was quite a scene the president was defiant and tumbling down consider that timeline here we are now three days out. From that scene in Charlottesville that eight. Fueled violence and the president now seems to be back at square one despite the tremendous backlash from his initial statements after this violent. The president now is once again. Condemning both sides here saying that there is blame on both sides. Anything mentioned he pointed this new term it means the also left asking what responsibility do they bear. Now we asked the president I asked him just to be clear with he. Drawing any sort of moral equivalency between what he describes it the old left that side of the protests. And the white supremacists and the president said no but that he deep and go on. To point out that he feels that that there were bad people. On both sides of this fight now you mention the fallout that we have seen since these broad tax and it's worth mentioning again that we've seen it. Rush of CEOs now forced CEOs coming out announcing that they are stepping down from their role on the president's manufacturing council in road tax. The way the president has handled his response to these protests and now we're hearing reaction from Capitol Hill coming into what the president. Just said one Republican member of the house summing it up in just two words tweeting David. Just know. In Mary I was struck in watching the news conference you were the one who did ask about this equivalency question this moral equivalency between the all right and and the all left as he seemed to coined during this press conference. He then said as you said and pointed back to you Mary about you calling it feel left so we should just for the record. Point out that the president actually used that terminology first you were simply asking for clarification. The president then did answer along the way as you alluded to marry that I think there is blame on both sides here. And went on to say about the initial protests in Charlottesville some of the images of the Tiki torches that we saw in talking about the people we saw on some of those images he said a lot of people were there to innocently protest they had a permit. He said he should add I do want to bring in our senior White House correspondent Cecilia Vega who led much of our coverage over the weekend as these events. We're taking place and Cecilia it is very clear that this president even with time. Is standing firm he he's defending his timeline and defending his words quite frankly. Standing his ground David and and not backing down and I think the headlines that will come out of this those that are emerging already. Is really this split shared blame. That the president is placing on the protesters on both sides that we saw there in Charlottesville. You know he said there is blame on broke both sides and he criticized. Equally both the protesters. The counter protestors the old left as he's calling them now as Mary just said. And they neo Nazis and I you know disturbingly. David some of the reaction that is coming in to the president's press conference just now former kkk grand wizard David duke. Is treating thanking the president of the United States for this press conference that we just heard you can see it there on your screen thank you president trump for your honesty and courage to tell the truth about Charlottesville and condemn. The leftist terrorist. In black I am assuming BL and black white matter anti the counter anti. T anti establishment protesters is what they would call them. This is not going to go away for president trump if he thought. He was trying to clear this up this issue to put this to bed David this is going to be something that dogs his campaign his team. For a long time to cop. Does do you think you and as you point out the former leader of the kkk sending out that tweet in just add a little more context because he was on the scene David duke. In Charlottesville and also tweeted after the initial response from president trump over the weekend. A re tweeting one of the president's tweets and in essence and I'm paraphrasing here saying don't forget Mr. President that it was white America that put you in the White House you can see the tension. And David duke appearing to be grateful for the words he heard from the president. At trump tower today I want to bring in our senior justice correspondent Pierre Thomas and Peter you. Summit asked the attorney general early this week are Jeff Sessions on whether or not he believed this was domestic terror whether there was a civil rights investigation. You heard the president there are asked today was this terror. While he did not answer the question he said it could be called murder it could be Carl many different things. But I think the fascinating thing about today is this notion of the confederacy. The president seemed to take sides with people who came to a protest the taking down of the Robert. And that is another hot button issue David. In this sense that. For the people who are support southern heritage. There's a belief that those statues have value but for many people of color particularly African Americans those statute. Represent the civil war it in terms of people who believed in and fought for slavery. And so therefore the president has opened another can of worms in that regard. And the other thing that he didn't really focus on as much in those conversations David is the notion that the kkk. And the neo Nazis and the others where they are to support keeping that statue. Were also people who were known to foment violence. Outright you know peer the president was then asked as he believed the status come should come down he said that's a question that. Local communities that states should tackle and said and in some cases the federal government's look at that particular issue that you bring up our things two Pierre Thomas is do they get married Bruce. Our entire White House team will have. Complete coverage coming up on world news tonight and for many of you your local news continues on this ABC station I'm David Muir in New York. This. Has been a special report from ABC.

This transcript has been automatically generated and may not be 100% accurate.

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