A small group of Liberty University graduates are planning to return their diplomas to the evangelical Virginia school as a rebuke of President Jerry Falwell Jr.'s latest show of unwavering support for Donald Trump.
"You had people that were very fine people on both sides", Trump said. "So proud of @realdonaldtrump".
A group of alumni from one of the country's most influential evangelical Christian universities is condemning their school's president for his continued alignment with President Trump.
On Wednesday, the day after Trump's eyebrow-raising Trump Tower press conference in which the president doubled down on placing blame, too, on counter-protesters marching against the racists, Falwell had tweeted his support for Trump, complimenting him for making a "bold" and "truthful" statement. By 10 a.m. Monday, it had 292 members. But his relationship with the president has sparked a backlash in the wake of Charlottesville among some students and alumni, who are promising to return their diplomas.
Trump has been criticized - including by many Republicans - for a series of statements after an anti-racist counterprotester was killed by an alleged Nazi sympathizer who drove his auto into the crowd.
Before his appearance on ABC's "This Week", host Martha Raddatz said that "when we asked the White House for an official who could appear on this program today to speak on behalf of the president, they pointed us" to Falwell.
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Chris Gaumer, 34, another 2006 graduate, called the decision to participate "a no-brainer". Falwell agreed that they should have left, but refused to disagree with Trump's assessment that they are "fine people".
A university spokesman did not respond to an email Sunday requesting comment. He wrote on Twitter: "The truth as stated by Donald Trump is that violent white supremacists, Nazi, KKK and similar hate groups are pure evil and un-American".
"He completely misunderstands my support", Falwell said in response to the idea, which Gaumer expressed earlier to NPR, that he had made Liberty University complicit in the defense of racism.
'The bold and truthful statements I was referring to were his willingness to call evil and terrorism by its name, to identify the groups, the Nazis, the KKK, the white supremacists, ' Falwell told Raddatz.
Raddatz asked specifically about the president's remarks about the deadly car-ramming attack in Charlottesville, "Why hasn't he called the attack in Charlottesville domestic terrorism?" 'But at least he's not politically correct, he's not so concerned about rehearsing and focus grouping every statement he makes'. "I know him well". The Fake News should listen to what he had to say.
"I don't believe he supported neo-Nazis, I don't believe he's supporting white supremacists at all", Burns said in an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.