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Congressman Tom Garrett

Representing the 5th District of Virginia

Garrett disagrees with Trump statement (Daily Progress)

August 24, 2017
In The News

Republican Rep. Tom Garrett once again on Tuesday condemned the recent violent acts in Charlottesville and the white nationalists who came to the city, and disagreed with how the president commented on it in the days following Aug. 12.

Garrett — who represents Virginia’s 5th District, which includes Charlottesville — said his position on not removing Confederate monuments has not changed in light of recent events.

He again disavowed Jason Kessler, the organizer of the Unite the Right rally who met with him at his Washington office in March.

President Donald Trump has come under fire for his remarks about the events in Charlottesville, saying on Aug. 15 at a news conference that there were good people on both sides, referring to those who participated in the Unite the Right rally and counter-protesters.

On Aug. 12, white nationalists and white supremacists were met by counter-protesters in downtown Charlottesville in what turned into deadly violence. Several hundred people marched through the University of Virginia the night before with torches, chanting slogans such as “Jews will not replace us.”

“If there were any good people there, then they were remarkably poor in judgment to make league with people who were overtly and clearly evil, so I haven’t identified the good people if they existed,” Garrett said of the Unite the Right participants. “My frustration with the president is I’m tired of having to say I think I knew what he meant.”

Garrett called those comments from the president a step backward.

When asked if he believes he should condemn Trump’s comments, Garrett said he does not think it’s necessary.

“I’d like to look at what he says next time,” he said.

While many localities across the country have taken steps to remove Confederate monuments in the wake of Charlottesville, Garrett said his stance has not changed and that he believes statues should not be removed. Instead, he thinks they should be context

“I think what we ought to do is contextualize where we were and then honor where we are so that we can continue to move in the right direction,” he said. “You can have that statue and you can put a plaque at the foot of that statue that speaks to the evil institution that was slavery.”

Garrett said it’s not the role of Congress to make these types of decisions for states and localities.

On Aug. 13, Garrett was asked on Fox News about a photo from a meeting he had with Kessler in March. Garrett disavowed Kessler and said he had no idea who Kessler was prior to that meeting.

On Tuesday, Garrett said he had heard of Kessler’s attempts to oust Wes Bellamy from Charlottesville’s City Council over old tweets, but didn’t think at the time he took the meeting with Kessler that Kessler was a white nationalist or a bigot.

“I knew he was strange. I didn’t know that he was someone who was trying to destroy the fabric of our country,” Garrett said.