Trump Takes 2 Hours to Call Vehicular Manslaughter Terrorism in Barcelona, Still Won’t in Charlottesville

At around 6PM Barcelona time (12 PM ET), a van drove into pedestrians on Barcelona’s Ramblas walkway. Authorities recently announced that 13 people were killed and at least 50 others wounded. Police have arrested Driss Oukabir, a Moroccan immigrant (see update).

At precisely 2PM ET, just two hours after the attack, Trump called it terrorism.

Here’s what Trump has tweeted about the vehicular manslaughter attack in Charlottesville on Saturday.

At 1:19PM Trump said we must unite.

At 1:42 Nazi James Alex Fields Jr drove his car into Heather Heyer and other counterprotestors, killing Heyers and injuring at least 19 others.

It wasn’t until 3:33 when Trump made a statement, condemning violence “on many sides.”

[W]e’re closely following the terrible events unfolding in Charlottesville, Virginia.  We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides.  On many sides.  It’s been going on for a long time in our country.  Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama.  This has been going on for a long, long time.

It has no place in America.  What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.  No citizen should ever fear for their safety and security in our society, and no child should ever be afraid to go outside and play, or be with their parents, and have a good time.

I just got off the phone with the Governor of Virginia, Terry McAuliffe, and we agreed that the hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now.  We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and true affection — really — and I say this so strongly — true affection for each other.

Our country is doing very well in so many ways.  We have record — just absolute record employment.  We have unemployment, the lowest it’s been in almost 17 years.  We have companies pouring into our country.  Foxconn and car companies, and so many others, they’re coming back to our country.  We’re renegotiating trade deals to make them great for our country and great for the American worker.  We have so many incredible things happening in our country.  So when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad.

I want to salute the great work of the state and local police in Virginia — incredible people — law enforcement, incredible people — and also the National Guard.  They’ve really been working smart and working hard.  They’ve been doing a terrific job.  The federal authorities are also providing tremendous support to the governor.  He thanked me for that.  And we are here to provide whatever other assistance is needed.  We are ready, willing, and able.

Above all else, we must remember this truth:  No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are all Americans first.  We love our country.  We love our God.  We love our flag.  We’re proud of our country.  We’re proud of who we are.  So we want to get the situation straightened out in Charlottesville, and we want to study it.  And we want to see what we’re doing wrong as a country, where things like this can happen.

My administration is restoring the sacred bonds of loyalty between this nation and its citizens, but our citizens must also restore the bonds of trust and loyalty between one another.  We must love each other, respect each other, and cherish our history and our future together.  So important.  We have to respect each other.  Ideally, we have to love each other.

He then posted several tweets of video from his stilted speech, invoking the racist Americans First pledge.

He eventually got around to offering condolences to Heather Heyer’s family that night, though not by name, and offered “best regards” to “all of those injured.”

Trump finally made some more appropriate prepared comments on Monday, calling out the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists specifically (though also mentioning “other hate groups”).

As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  It has no place in America.

And as I have said many times before:  No matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.  We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence.  We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans.

Racism is evil.  And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.

We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal.  We are equal in the eyes of our Creator.  We are equal under the law.  And we are equal under our Constitution.  Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.

Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed.  Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love.

We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth, and their country.  Troopers Jay Cullen and Burke Bates exemplify the very best of America, and our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and every member of American law enforcement.

These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation.  In times such as these, America has always shown its true character:  responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice.

As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge.  We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear.  We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.

Just hours later, he bitched that the media didn’t celebrate his belated, halfhearted statement.

Wednesday, he finally got around to naming Heyer on Twitter.

He of course then made off the cuff comments at an announcement on infrastructure. After explaining the delay in condemning white supremacists because he wanted to wait until he had the facts, he refused to call the attack terrorism.

THE PRESIDENT:  I didn’t know David Duke was there.  I wanted to see the facts.  And the facts, as they started coming out, were very well stated.  In fact, everybody said, “His statement was beautiful.  If he would have made it sooner, 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.

It was very important — excuse me, excuse me — it was very important to me to get the facts out and correctly.  Because if I would have made a fast statement — 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 are still things — excuse me — there are still things that people don’t know.

I want to make a statement with knowledge.  I wanted to know the facts.

Q    Two questions.  Was this terrorism?  And can you tell us how you’re feeling about your chief strategist, Stephen Bannon?

THE PRESIDENT:  Well, I think the driver of the car is a disgrace to himself, his family, and this country.  And that is — you can call it terrorism.  You can call it murder.  You can 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 murder?  Is it terrorism?  And then you get into legal semantics.  The driver of the car is a murderer.  And what he did was a horrible, horrible, inexcusable thing.

He went on to complain that the press had treated some “fine people” protesting alongside Nazis unfairly.

THE PRESIDENT:  So you know what, it’s fine.  You’re changing history.  You’re changing culture.  And you had people — and I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists — because they should be condemned totally.  But you had many people in that group other than neo-Nazis and white nationalists.  Okay?  And the press has treated them absolutely unfairly.

Now, in the other group also, you had some fine people.  But you also had troublemakers, and you see them come with the black outfits and with the helmets, and with the baseball bats.  You had a lot of bad people in the other group.

Then, this morning, in response to Lindsey Graham’s (among others) criticism of those comments, Trump lashed out.

As of this moment, Trump still hasn’t called the terrorist attack in Charlottesville a terrorist attack (to say nothing of mentioning the attack on a Minnesota mosque last week).

Update: According to later reports Oukabir voluntarily went to the authorities and reported his documents had been stolen.

Marcy Wheeler is an independent journalist writing about national security and civil liberties. She writes as emptywheel at her eponymous blog, publishes at outlets including Vice, Motherboard, the Nation, the Atlantic, Al Jazeera, and appears frequently on television and radio. She is the author of Anatomy of Deceit, a primer on the CIA leak investigation, and liveblogged the Scooter Libby trial.

Marcy has a PhD from the University of Michigan, where she researched the “feuilleton,” a short conversational newspaper form that has proven important in times of heightened censorship. Before and after her time in academics, Marcy provided documentation consulting for corporations in the auto, tech, and energy industries. She lives with her spouse in Grand Rapids, MI.

11 replies
  1. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Rule 1. It’s always all about Donald.

    Not to mention that Donald must be clinging to a declining base of supporters, what with pissing off nearly every person of color, leading GOP Congresscritters, leading CEOs, billionaire backers, Main Street Americans, all but the most fundamentalist rightwing clergy and every person of goodwill in America and many around the world.

    Not to mention, dancing with nuclear war, wanting to toss out the health insurance of tens of millions of Americans, and, well, the list goes on. He’s been in office 200 days, but he seems determined to break everything before running home in a huff.

    Must it take an indictment from Mueller to get the House and Senate to remove a man so obviously unfit to be president?

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Perhaps Donald would prefer to be hounded out of office by unfair opponents (as opposed to ineffective opponents who acted fairly).  That would preserve the necessary myth of the Dolchstosslegende and make possible the erection of statues of a mounted Donald appearing at neo-Nazi rallies across the South.

      Would he consider that better than to be deemed incompetent, to be deemed to be suffering dementia, or to be indicted for multiple crimes?  (Remembering that Mueller’s staff might already be analyzing all of Donald’s tax returns.)  I guess we’ll see if he’s the best deal maker ever.

  2. Evangelista says:

    Marcie,
    You should review the 1979 Greensboro Massacre. In that case legitimate protesters attempting to bring attention to brown-lung manifesting in textile workers were joined by Communist Workers Party members, some militant and armed. A coalition of groups looking for a venue in which to express “outrage”, like Anti-FE and Heather Heyer, descended on the legitimate protest. A shoot-out occurred between armed militant members of both parties, the protesters and the counter-protesters. Some people were killed.

    Recognize the parallels? The Anti-FE-like counter-protesters in the 1979 Greensboro event included Nazi and KKK members, so there is some reversal between the two events.

    In criminal proceedings juries found that going to protests armed to shoot and then engaging in shooting there was not criminal activity. But in a civil trial the jury found that a shooting of an unarmed party was not justifiable, wherefore the shooting parties were civilly liable.

    Back then, in that case, public sentiment was on the side of the proesters, especially the peaceful of them, infiltrated by armed and militant supporters.

    Today, as you demonstrate, there is considerable sentiment on the side of the disrupting aggressors, the parties who attack the legitimate and legal protesters.

    What we need, instead, is some recognition that the apparently reformed and today more peaceable Nazi, KKK and White Supremacist elements who composed the legitimate and legal protesters, have, apparently, or were, apparently, reformed and engaging in peaceul and lawful protest. If we don’t we are going to see them regress to what they were thirty-seven years ago, that thee decades of good example and Sunday-School exhortation had with great effort and through slow progress brought them forward from. A start, in 1979 that was where over a hundred years of good examples and exhortations had brought them to from wha they were in the 1870’s, when they were running wild, celebrating the Civil War’s devaluating of black people from valuable slave properties they could in no way afford to pay the value of if they lynched one, to worthless and so free for anyone with a rope and something to throw the end over to lynch as many of as they might want to.

    All that progress, Marcie, you are coming close, in your writing, to contributing to throwing away. Especially, right at the moment, the part of the progres we brought, with so much struggle and effort, forward since 1979.

    I suggest that a better idea will be to single out those Anti-Fucking-Everything (Anti-FE) maniacs and let them assume responsibility for their own actions and their own “Outrage” driven aggressions. And take lessons from the Greensboro jurors of 1979 and let the shooters among them and among those they assume to define their opposition shoot away at each other.

    I definitely concur with the civil jury that injuries either or both parties in “Outrage” driven shootouts inflict on third parties should be liabilities to the shooter parties.

    In the Greensboro case the police were also assigned liability, for letting the shooting get out of hand in a populous and populated area, to wit in proximity and intermix with a peaceful and lawful protest. With that I also concur. The police should always meet the violently inclined, of the protesters as well as he counter-protesters, at the city limit sign, and tell them that if they want to engage in shooting out, they need to take it out of town.

    My reading of Donald Trump’s expressings on the Charlottesville donnybrook is that he seems to be at least inclining to be on the same page with, at least with me, and, after reading this and thinking it through, I hope also you…

    • jerryy says:

      You write like an ai bot that lacks the cognitive facilities to apprehend the inanity it generates.

      Yeah, I know about do not feed the trolls but come on… you tell us not to annoy those peaceable Nazis and KKKers and white supremacists so they will not resort to type? Give it a rest. You say to put the violent ones together and let ’em shoot it out? No. Just no and no.

       

  3. scribe says:

    A hypothetical timeline
    8:00 am man on one side of an issue drives his car into a crowd on the other side of the issue in some town, Anywhere, USA, where demonstrations have been going on
    8:02 am one person in crowd dies after being hit by car
    8:05 am crowd detains man, roughs him up
    8:07 am police pry crowd off man, arrest him, take him to station
    8:30 am video of car going into crowd goes viral, national TV picks it up
    9:00 am TV pundits start opining in earnest, arguing whether car going into crowd is ordinary or super-terrorism, interviews of crying girls in crowd holding broken flowers wring the emotions of viewers
    10:00 am twitter starts backing up with arguments over terroristic nature of car going into crowd, demand Trump say something
    Momentum builds all day and into the night …
    … next day
    9:00 am driver arraigned on manslaughter and other, lesser charges related to driving car into crowd, not-guilty plea entered (optional – lynch mob outside courthouse makes entry difficult, for a recent historical example see, e.g., Tsarnev’s initial appearance in Boston federal court, where a mob gathered looking for blood)
    10:15 am Trump declares on twitter it was an act of terrorism, man is a terrorist “BAD!”
    10:16 am Man’s defense lawyer, backed by the NACDL and ACLU, goes into conniptions asserting Trump is tampering with any prospective jury, preventing a fair trial, encouraging his minions in DoJ to withhold any exculpatory evidence, encouraging other minions in custodial system to rough up the defendant (“Don’t have to be nice to the really bad guys! HURT!”), demand impeachment of Trump for disregarding his duty under the Constitution to “take care that the law be faithfully executed”.
    10:17 Twitter explodes with demands for Trump’s head over his comments.
    10:20 Democratic congresscritters file articles of impeachment against Trump for his comments impairing the defendant’s right to a fair trial and so on.

    If you think that’s out of line, consider the historical example of Tricky Dick Nixon commenting on Charles Manson’s guilt. The Harvard Crimson lede, August 4, 1970, (first result for nixon manson guilty on Google) http://www.thecrimson.com/article/1970/8/4/nixon-calls-manson-guilty-attorneys-move/ was this:

    President Nixon may have freed Charles Manson-not by an act of executive clemency, but by one of errant stupidity.
    Defense attorneys for Manson, Leslie Van Houten, and Susan Atkins-who face charges of murder stemming from the mass killings last August of actress Sharon Tate and six other persons-moved for a mistrial yesterday after learning that Nixon had said that Manson was “guilty, directly or indirectly, of eight murders without reason.”

    There is a good and substantial reason for the President – any President – to not comment about the possible nature of an alleged crime and to not comment on the guilt or innocence, credibility or incredibility, or otherwise about the defendant and/or his motives: he stands a real chance of fucking up the criminal case by flapping his lips. Moreover, the President has people to handle criminal cases. They work in the DoJ.
    In the Nixon-Manson case, there was no end of backing and filling by the White House to fix that gaffe – much easier in the days of 3 networks, daily newspapers and a much slower news cycle – and the judge was still shocked. In the words of the Manson defense lawyer:

    In Los Angeles, defense attorney Paul Fitzgerald told reporters, “If we’re going to have the chief executive of this nation categorically or uncategorically speculate on people’s guilt, we ought to abandon this court system. Maybe President Nixon in a news conference ought to determine whether these people are guilty.”

    It’s one thing to opine or make a statement about events in a foreign country. You have no relation to that country’s justice system. It’s entirely different to make a statement about events in your own country, where a good argument can – and will – be made that by flapping your lips or tweeting from the shitter you’re putting an ass on the scales of innocence and guilt, on the side of “guilty”.

  4. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Heather Heyer’s mother to Donald Trump, who now refuses to speak to him:

    “Think before you speak.”

    Would that the world adopted her response.

  5. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The US record of imperial occupation in the Philippines is brutal.  Trump’s version of the bullets-dipped-in-pig blood and murder of prisoners as group intimidation has verisimilitude.  But this story isn’t true.  There are other atrocities aplenty – hundreds of thousands of Filipinos died in the first decades of US occupation – but this isn’t one of them.

    Mysteriously, the MSM hasn’t asked for commentary from Alfred McCoy, who knows more about terrorism, the contemporary Philippines and the original US occupation than the string of commentators flowing through CNN’s studios.

    The Pershing story illustrates Trump’s ability to remember a theme without regard for its truth, only for its utility.  It reveals how Trump masks his falsehoods in myth: here, to the martial valor of Black Jack Pershing (better known for leading the AEF in WWI), and to our “democratizing” mission in the Philippines.  (Or mission civilisatrice, as the French in Algeria and Indochina put it).

    The more specific point is this:  The President of the United States is advocating war crimes – the murder of prisoners, the defamation of their religion – as an acceptable method to protect the state, or at least its armies of occupation.

    Abu Ghraib and Guantanamo would suggest the US hasn’t learned enough since suppressing the Moro Rebellion.  It’s record of support for Latin American death squads suggests the same.

    The irony is that Trump picks up on real facts and attitudes.  He just misremembers them and their context.  His bigger liability is that he doesn’t filter them the way politicians such as Nixon or Kissinger usually do.  He lies about many things, but occasionally tells a kernel of the truth about the wrong things.

  6. earlofhuntingdon says:

    Bannon’s out. The NYT says Trump has informed his “aides”. I wonder if he’s told Bannon. And I wonder how happy the Mercers are. The Trump bus is gonna need a new suspension and tires, what with all the objects it runs over.

    • Rugger9 says:

      Well, I saw that as well.  There is also a report that another aide is on his/her way out as well.  Mother Jones has a dead pool column that needs an update.  The report yesterday in Raw Story that Trump was incensed that Bannon took credit for his election was probably the final straw.

      So, if Bannon goes back to Breitbart (and how are they financially?), who will the alt-right minders be in the WH?  Miller?  “Dr” Gorka?  This is not a trivial thing because even Caesar Disgustus should be aware that his troglodyte deplorables (I include the Falwell and Jeffress evangelicals in this group) are his only reliable support.

      The useful other question is who’s expendable enough to be the other aide to leave?  Kelly would be a reasonable choice, given that the statements this week should cut to the core if his USMC soul still operates.  Look at his face-palm expression at the press conference.  However, I tend to doubt this, for these reasons: he’ll be too much of a soldier to quit; he’ll want to filter out the really crazy (blow up the DPRK) and he can’t do that on the outside; and he thinks he might be the only one to save the country.

      Sessions is too useful for implementing Trump policies (as well as being another racist minder).  Mulvaney is too busy twisting budget arms.

      I’m more inclined to think it will be someone in the more rational wing (I know that is a low bar), someone who has outlived political usefulness and is not family.  Kellyanne Conway?

    • Rugger9 says:

      Now the other rule of this “administration” is that kerfuffles are used to hide substantial announcements of policy changes that hurt Americans.  It’s part of my observation that even though he is scattershot and incoherent, Caesar Disgustus doesn’t do things without a reason or a purpose (no matter how petty or stupid).  Bannon sent in his resignation almost two weeks ago (allegedly).  Since it was the DFH side attacked in Charlottesville, C.D. wouldn’t care to hold onto the resignation, he’d accept it as his way of pretending to do something.  Because that easy political cover play did not happen I don’t think there was a resignation pending.  After all, C.D. only has to pick up the phone to talk to Bannon (as noted by others here) so there is no real downside for letting Bannon go. It’s worked for Flynn and Lewandowski as well.

      I wonder what this Bannon story is being used to bury?

      • harpie says:

        It might be Carl Icahn‘s resignation [don’t know if that’s the right word] as “special advisor to the President on issues relating to regulatory reform.”

         

        Sarah Kendzior:
         

        This is interesting. Icahn has been a backer of Trump’s since the 1980s — a corporate raider who rescued Trump when he made awful deals. / In terms of a vote of no confidence in Trump — and broader isolation of his admin — Icahn’s departure is more significant than Bannon’s. / We know Mueller’s looking at Trump finances. Means he likely looked at Icahn’s too. Only speculation, but that could drive Icahn resignation [emphasis added].

        Kyle Griffin has the letter here.

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