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Trump defends remarks on Charlottesville violence, slams 'crooked media' on race

President Trump blamed the news media Tuesday for the uproar over his equivocal reaction to the recent deadly violence at a rally of neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville, Va.

Speaking at a campaign-style rally in Phoenix, Trump reviewed his public statements on the matter, but omitted the ones that sparked outrage across the political spectrum.

Trump read verbatim -- almost -- some of the remarks that he has made deploring right-wing extremists and accused the media of ignoring them.

“I hit ’em with neo-Nazi,” he said. “I hit ’em with everything. I got the white supremacist, the neo-Nazi. I got ’em all in there. Let’s see. KKK? We have KKK. I got ’em all. So they’re having a hard time. So what did they say, right? 'It should have been sooner; he’s a racist.’”

But what actually offended many people were Trump’s statements faulting “many sides” for the violence in Charlottesville, along with his comment that some “very fine people” were among the white supremacists and neo-Nazis protesting the town’s removal of a Robert E. Lee statue.

Trump didn't mention that part Tuesday night.

Trump told the cheering crowd that it was “time to challenge the crooked media deceptions.”

“By the way, they are trying to take away our history and our heritage,” he added, renewing his criticism of efforts to take down monuments to the Confederacy.

Turning to race relations in the United States, Trump said, “I have to say, they were pretty bad under Barack Obama, that I can tell you.”

Trump also hinted that he might pardon former Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio, whose harsh immigration enforcement tactics in Arizona have long drawn controversy. 

“So was Sheriff Joe convicted for doing his job?” Trump asked the crowd, which burst into cheers.

Arpaio was recently found guilty of contempt of court for defying a judge’s 2011 order directing him to stop racially profiling Latinos during patrols and turning them over to federal immigration officials.

“I’ll make a prediction,” Trump told his supporters in Phoenix. “I think he’s going to be just fine, OK?”

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