Where they stand: Minnesota’s delegation on Charlottesville and Trump’s response

REUTERS/Kevin Lamarque
President Donald Trump talking to the media in the lobby of Trump Tower in Manhattan on Tuesday.

Over the weekend, in the college town of Charlottesville, Virginia, a group of neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and members of the Ku Klux Klan gathered to defend a public monument to Confederate General Robert E. Lee slated for removal. What began on Friday night as a disturbing, racist march turned violent on Saturday, with white supremacists and counter-protests clashing. A 32-year-old counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed, and dozens more were injured, when a 20-year-old white supremacist drove his car through a crowd.

President Donald Trump initially blamed protesters on “many sides” for the violence; it took him two days to name neo-Nazis and white supremacists as the instigators. In a Tuesday press conference, Trump went back to blaming both sides, naming neo-Nazis and what he called “alt-left” protesters as responsible for the violence, while saying there were “very fine people” on both sides and criticizing the idea of removing the statue of Lee.

Trump’s slow response, and his Tuesday remarks that reversed his more measured Monday statement, has drawn widespread condemnation from Republicans and Democrats alike, while the far-right organizers of the rally, from Richard Spencer to David Duke, praised the president for calling out counter-protesters.

In the aftermath of Charlottesville, Minnesota’s members of Congress have responded with statements, on social media, and on TV. Where public statements weren’t available, we’ve also made requests for comment. We’re collecting their responses here, and we’ll continue to update it as new information becomes available.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D)

As Mayor Mike Signer of Charlottesville has said, “When I think of torches, I want to think of the Statue of Liberty. When I think of candlelight, I want to think of prayer vigils.” Our country is so much better than this. We all stand with the people of Charlottesville and the students of the University of Virginia against this racism.

— August 12, via Facebook

“Today we grieve and pray for the people of Charlottesville and the victims of the violence, including the families of the woman who was killed and the police officers who died in the helicopter crash as they were called into action. We also grieve and pray for our country. Because in the year 2017, we still have neo-Nazis and white nationalists spouting racism and inciting violence. This is inimical to everything we stand for. There are no sides to this. There is only truth. And the truth is that when racism and violence win, we all lose. Our nation loses. So let us stand together, defending our own rights and those of our fellow citizens. Let us seek not just common ground, but higher ground. Americans have stood together shoulder to shoulder for justice before and won, many times over. Our country is the stronger for it.”

— August 13, via Facebook

Sen. Al Franken (D)

“We have to remember, what the statue was about is slavery. That’s what the confederacy was about… [neo-Nazis] came wearing helmets and bringing clubs, and the violence started…and this driver, who has been charged, injured 20 and killed this lovely young woman and it is unbelievably sad. And President Trump, instead of condemning the white supremacists, just went out and said, ‘I condemn all violence from everybody’. And I thought that was horrible – and it was very him.”

— August 15, on Late Night with Conan O’Brien

Rep. Tim Walz (D – 1st District)

“Americans don’t just deserve moral leadership from our POTUS, we demand it. @realDonaldTrump‘s failure to see good from evil is despicable. For @realDonaldTrump to use the bully pulpit, not as a force for good, but to serve as an apologist for Nazis is an affront to our values. We are the greatest country on earth. I won’t & we can’t be silent while one man disgraces all that we stand for. We must keep speaking out.”

– August 15, via Twitter

Rep. Jason Lewis (R – 2nd District)

“No room for hate in US political discourse. Should all stand together condemning disgusting hate, racism &violence in #Charlottesville #Mn02

– August 12, via Twitter

“There is no room for hate in American political discourse. All men are created equal, and we all stand together in condemning the disgusting racism and violence that is sadly on display.”

— August 12, via Facebook

Rep. Erik Paulsen (R – 3rd District)

“There is no place in civil, respectful society for the horrid views expressed & violence in Charlottesville. We must be united, not divided… The driving of a car through a crowd of people today was an act of domestic terrorism. My thoughts are with the victims & their loved ones. We must reject all forms of bigotry, by white supremacist groups or any group that attempts to spread hate and violence.”

— August 12, via Twitter

“This is cut-and-dry: White supremacists & neo-Nazis have no place in our society & that should be made unequivocally clear on all levels”

— August 15, via Twitter

Rep. Betty McCollum (D – 4th District)

“Racist violence in #Charlottesville is reprehensible and goes against the values we share as Americans. Bigotry has no place in our country.

— August 12 via Twitter

Americans are sickened by what’s happened in #Charlottesville. We need a President who stands up to white supremacists and domestic terror.

— August 12 via Twitter

To my @HouseGOP and @SenateGOP colleagues: it’s time for you to join us and condemn @realDonaldTrump’s embrace of the KKK and neo-Nazis.”

— August 15, via Twitter

Rep. Keith Ellison (D — 5th District)

“Through his silence, President Trump is speaking loudly and clearly on how he feels about bias-motivated violence against people outside of what he considers his base. The President failed to respond when two good Samaritans were murdered by a white supremacist in Portland, and he stood silent when a bomber attacked an Islamic Center in Minnesota — except for when his aide Sebastian Gorka said the attack may have been perpetrated by the left. And the President has failed to name the tragedy that took the life of Heather Heyer, a brave American, for what it was — an act of right wing domestic terrorism at a white supremacist Nazi rally in Charlottesville.

No American wants to face it but the facts are increasingly hard to ignore: Donald J. Trump is sympathetic to violent white supremacists. Donald Trump campaigned on hate. He encouraged violence from the campaign stage. He hired Bannon, Miller, and Gorka.  And he stands silent in the face of white supremacist violence, though he casually tears down anyone who displeases him. Hate might be the only campaign promise he’s delivering on. Right wing terrorism is far more prevalent than any other form of terrorism in our country, by a 2 to 1 margin. It’s time for the President’s administration to address the right wing hate groups that are a threat to American citizens.”

— August 16 statement

Rep. Tom Emmer (R – 6th District)

Today, & all days, we must stand together as one nation against the hatred & racism that attempts to divide us.

— August 12, via Twitter

There is no question about it: white supremacy is repugnant & has no place in this great nation we call home.

— August 16, via Twitter

Rep. Collin Peterson (D – 7th District)

“Hatred and bigotry associated with the white supremacists, neo Nazis, and the KKK has no place in our society. The tragedy in Charlottesville is another example of the struggles our country faces to unite and confront hate. My thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families.”

— August 14 statement

Rep. Rick Nolan (D – 8th District)

“White supremacy and hate should have no place in US. Today’s violence is horrifying and we must confront bigotry that lurks in our society. Under no condition or circumstance can the president appear to give cover to white supremacists, Nazis, the KKK, or any other hate group. There are not two sides to that issue for people who respect basic human rights.”

—via Twitter and spokesperson, August 16

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Comments (5)

  1. Submitted by Howard Schneider on 08/16/2017 - 01:13 pm.


    I would like all the Republicans, including the President, to go beyond condemnation of racism and bigotry.

    They should tell the Nazis and KKK:
    – we don’t want your support
    – stop wearing Make America Great Again hats.
    – quit saying you support Trump agenda
    – crawl back to your holes.

    This would be meaningful and demonstrate some degree of courage. Though I know that Trump would never issue such a statement… how about it Republican elected officials and party members?

    It’s not too much to ask.

  2. Submitted by Gerry Anderson on 08/16/2017 - 10:08 pm.

    Sen Al needs to study a bit more

    The Civil War was fought over states rights. And to save the Union. Lincoln knew the way to get people behind the war was to use slavery. And it worked.

    The trouble with removing history, we will soon forget the good and the bad and those that follow will make the same mistakes.

    It’s already happening. Look at how people are being shut out on campus’ and other speaking forums because the radicals don’t agree. Free speech is the first to go.

    Trump has been compared to Hitler and his party to Nazis. Yet the speech being suppressed stamped out is that who disagree with the left particularly on campus. Look at pre war Germany. History has a way unless we learn…..

    • Submitted by RB Holbrook on 08/17/2017 - 10:08 am.

      The Lost Cause

      The idea that the Civil War was about “States’ Rights” is just historical revisionism.

      Leaving aside the idea that states have no rights (they have powers. People have rights), look at the basic law of the Confederacy. Article I, section 9, clause 4 says that “No bill of attainder, ex post facto law, or law denying or impairing the right of property in negro slaves shall be passed.” Confederate states did not have the “right” to prohibit slavery, even if they had wanted to.

      Or look at South Carolina’s justification for secession:

      “We affirm that these ends for which this Government was instituted have been defeated, and the Government itself has been made destructive of them by the action of the non-slaveholding States. Those States have assume the right of deciding upon the propriety of our domestic institutions; and have denied the rights of property established in fifteen of the States and recognized by the Constitution; they have denounced as sinful the institution of slavery; they have permitted open establishment among them of societies, whose avowed object is to disturb the peace and to eloign the property of the citizens of other States. They have encouraged and assisted thousands of our slaves to leave their homes; and those who remain, have been incited by emissaries, books and pictures to servile insurrection.”

      Mississippi: “Our position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery—the greatest material interest of the world.”

      Louisiana: “As a separate republic, Louisiana remembers too well the whisperings of European diplomacy for the abolition of slavery in the times of an­nexation not to be apprehensive of bolder demonstrations from the same quarter and the North in this country. The people of the slave holding States are bound together by the same necessity and determination to preserve African slavery.”


      No, Lincoln did not send troops to the South to abolish slavery. The idea that the motives for war must somehow be symmetrical is an odd one (did the US declare war on Japan because we did not approve of Japanese expansion, or because they attacked our territory? Discuss).

      “The trouble with removing history, we will soon forget the good and the bad and those that follow will make the same mistakes.” There is a difference between remembering history, and glorifying it. I don’t see statutes of Rommel in Germany.

    • Submitted by Steve Sundberg on 08/17/2017 - 10:50 am.

      You might want to rethink that re: cause of Southern secession

      Slavery was the predominate reason given for secession, esp. as it pertained to states’ rights. The whole logic behind the states’ rights argument revolved around being able to 1) maintain slavery, and 2) expand slavery into new US territories and states:

      “Every state in the Confederacy issued an ‘Article of Secession’ declaring their break from the Union. Four states went further. Texas, Mississippi, Georgia and South Carolina all issued additional documents, usually referred to as the ‘Declarations of Causes,’ which explain their decision to leave the Union. The documents can be found in their entirety here.

      “Two major themes emerge in these documents: slavery and states’ rights. All four states strongly defend slavery while making varying claims related to states’ rights. Other grievances, such as economic exploitation and the role of the military, receive limited attention in some of the documents.”

      Mississippi went so far as to declare, in the Declaration, that their “position is thoroughly identified with the institution of slavery- the greatest material interest of the world. Its labor supplies the product which constitutes by far the largest and most important portions of commerce of the earth.”

      Texas wins the cake, though, with a statement that would sound familiar today coming from the mouths of white supremacists: “We hold as undeniable truths that the governments of the various States, and of the confederacy itself, were established exclusively by the white race, for themselves and their posterity; that the African race had no agency in their establishment; that they were rightfully held and regarded as an inferior and dependent race, and in that condition only could their existence in this country be rendered beneficial or tolerable.”


  3. Submitted by Edward Blaise on 08/17/2017 - 08:47 am.


    Yes, state’s rights: the right to own slaves.

    I am OK with Ann Coulter speaking anywhere: I just elect not to listen. The right, desperate to find any slight, latches on to things like this and rides them until they are beaten to nothing. I’m surprised we did not get a Fox mandated, Seth Rich reference.

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