ThinkProgress

Falwell Jr.: Trump praised participants at white supremacist rally because he had ‘inside information’

President Donald Trump gestures as he stands with Liberty University president, Jerry Falwell Jr., right, during commencement ceremonies at the school in Lynchburg, Va., Saturday, May 13, 2017. CREDIT: AP Photo/Steve Helber

President Donald Trump has inside information on the white supremacists who marched in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, and that is how the president knows there are “very fine people” among them, according to Liberty University President Jerry Falwell Jr.

Falwell Jr. appeared on ABC’s This Week Sunday morning and cheered Trump’s remarks following the Charlottesville rallies during which one woman, who had come to protest neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and members of the KKK who had gathered for the Unite the Right rally, was killed. Two police on duty also died when their helicopter crashed.

“The only group he identified by name as evil and causing what happened in Charlottesville were the Nazis, the KKK, and the white supremacists,” Falwell Jr said Sunday. “That’s what I thought was bold.”

But as host Martha Raddatz pointed out, Trump said Tuesday that there were “very fine people” on both sides of the clashes in Charlottesville.

“Do you believe there were very fine people on both sides?” Raddatz asked.

“I have no idea. He has inside information I don’t have,” Falwell Jr. said. “I don’t know if there were historical purists there who were trying to preserve some statutes. I don’t know, but he had information I didn’t have.”

What he does know, Falwell Jr. said, is that the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists are “pure evil.”

Raddatz asked Falwell Jr. if he thinks Trump ought to have been clearer about that in his remarks, but Falwell Jr. ultimately said no.

“One of the reasons I supported him is because he doesn’t say what’s politically correct, he says what’s in his heart, what he believes and sometimes that gets him in trouble,” Falwell Jr. said. “But he does not have a racist bone in his body.”

Falwell Jr. praised Trump’s response to the tragedy in Charlottesville last week, tweeting Wednesday, “Finally a leader in WH. Jobs returning, N Korea backing down, bold truthful stmt about #charlottesville tragedy.So proud of @realdonaldtrump”

Falwell Jr. followed up the next day, saying, “The truth as stated by @realDonaldTrump is that violent white supemacists, Nazi, KKK and similar hate groups are pure evil and un-American.”

On This Week, Raddatz said that when the show reached out to the White House and asked for an official to appear on the program, the White House pointed them to Falwell Jr.

NPR reported Sunday morning that some Liberty University graduates are returning their diplomas to protest Trump and Falwell Jr.’s support of Trump.