Updated Apr 25, 2024 - Politics & Policy

Trump: Charlottesville rally was a "little peanut" compared to pro-Palestinian protests

Donald Trump speaks to the media as he leaves court during his trial for allegedly covering up hush money payments at Manhattan Criminal Court on April 25

Donald Trump speaks to the media as he leaves court on April 25. Photo: Jefferson Siegel-Pool/Getty Images

Former President Trump on Thursday doubled down on his claim that the deadly 2017 rally in Charlottesville, Virginia was a "peanut" compared to the current pro-Palestinian protests occurring across the country.

Why it matters: This is not the first time Trump has downplayed the severity of the Charlottesville rally, in which hundreds of white nationalists marched through the town's streets and a driver plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one.

  • In doing so, Trump has taken a pointed jab at President Biden, who has said the Charlottesville rally inspired him to run in 2020.

The big picture: "We're having protests all over," Trump told reporters Thursday, referring to the pro-Palestinian and anti-war protests, while leaving court after another day in his New York hush money trial.

  • "Charlottesville was a little peanut" and "nothing compared" to the "kind of hate that you have here," Trump added.
  • Trump voiced a similar sentiment in a Truth Social post Wednesday night, in which he wrote that "Charlottesville is like a 'peanut' compared to the riots and anti-Israel protests that are happening all over our Country."
  • Trump had previously faced enormous blowback for claiming that there were "very fine people" on "both sides" of the Charlottesville events.

The other side: "Donald Trump can spew hatred and nonsense on his failed social media platform all day long but the American people are not going to be lectured to by the guy who called white supremacists very fine people after they chanted 'Jews will not replace us' and killed a woman," Biden campaign rapid response director Ammar Moussa said in a statement.

  • "He was never in touch with the vast majority of the American people, but his years down in Mar-a-Lago have him even more unhinged heading into 2024," Moussa added.
  • White House deputy press secretary Andrew Bates called Trump's minimization of the Charlottesville rally "repugnant and divisive."
  • "Unlike some figures on the right, President Biden has never invited Neo Nazis and Holocaust deniers over for lunch," Bates added.

State of play: The pro-Palestinian protests have centered on college campuses across the country, where students have faced an increased crackdown from school administrators.

Zoom in: Biden addressed the protests on Monday, saying he condemned any antisemitic protests that are occurring.

  • "I also condemn those who don't understand what's going on with the Palestinians," he added.
  • Trump isn't the only Republican taking an active interest in the ongoing protests. Earlier this week, House Speaker Mike Johnson (R-La.) led a delegation on a visit to Columbia University, where they were booed and heckled.

Editor's note: This story has been updated with a statement from Bates.

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