President Joe Biden repeated the Charlottesville “fine people hoax” on Thursday at his “unity summit,” falsely claiming that then-President Donald Trump referred to neo-Nazis as “very fine people. Trump said they should be “condemned totally.”
Biden spoke after Susan Bro, the mother of Heather Heyer, the left-wing protester who was murdered by a neo-Nazi during the unrest in Charlottesville in August 2017.
There were peaceful protests on either side of the question of whether to remove a statute of Confederate general Robert E. Lee, but these were overtaken by right-wing extremist groups and left-wing rioters who clashed in the streets. Heyer was murdered when a neo-Nazi purposely drove his car into a peaceful left-wing protest.
President Trump issued three statements on the violence. In the first, he condemned violence on “all sides.” In the second, he specifically condemned neo-Nazi groups, white supremacists, and the KKK. In the third, during a press conference, he said that there had been “very fine people” in Charlottesville, but made clear he was referring to peaceful protesters like Heyer. He said specifically: “I’m not talking about the neo-Nazis and the white nationalists, because they should be condemned totally.”
The “fine people hoax” has been publicly debunked several times: for example, by then-Vice President Mike Pence at the 2020 vice-presidential debate; and again during the second impeachment trial of (by then) former President Trump.
Nevertheless, Biden repeated the hoax again — a hoax that has, arguable, increased hatred and disunity in the country, since it falsely associates Trump supporters with neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and violent extremists, poisoning political debate.
Biden appeared to be repeating the same script he had used since his campaign launch — a standard text on Charlottesville that he memorized and repeated in speech after speech, even after he was confronted with the truth of what Trump actually said:
Video of my confrontation with @JoeBiden over Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax. Note he always uses same script (bulging veins etc) like he’s trained to recite it. Media covered this but none linked to the transcript of Trump’s remarks that proves Biden lies 8/8/19 pic.twitter.com/6WD6q1Yhy8
— Joel Pollak (@joelpollak) August 13, 2020
After he related his familiar description of the neo-Nazis, Biden said that after Heyer’s murder, “When the last guy was asked, ‘What do you think?”, he said he thought there were some fine people on both sides.” There were groans in the audience.
Biden also linked the January 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol to Charlottesville. He called the “unity summit” to rally supporters against so-called “MAGA Republicans,” whom Biden recently called a “threat to the country” in a prime-time address.