Fact Check: Mike Pence Responds to Charlottesville ‘Very Fine People’ Hoax at VP Debate

CLAIM: Vice President Mike Pence claimed that President Donald Trump condemned the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville.

VERDICT: TRUE. Pence debunked the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax.

At long last, the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax has been deflated on the national stage.

At the vice presidential debate at the University of Utah in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) attempted to repeat the false claim that President Trump failed to condemn white supremacists on the debate stage, and the false claim that Trump called neo-Nazis in the 2017 Charlottesville riots “very fine people.”

Harris said: “Last week, the President of the United States took a debate stage in front of 70 million Americans and refused to condemn white supremacists [sic].”

She then proceeded to twist Trump’s words in which told the Proud Boys — whom Joe Biden had brought up — to “stand down and stand by,” using terms similar to those moderator Chris Wallace had used in his question prompt.

Harris then recited the infamous hoax, among other hoaxes:

He called Mexicans “rapists” and “criminals” [sic]. He instituted, as his first act, a “Muslim ban” [sic]. He — on the issue of Charlottesville, where people were peacefully protesting [sic] the need for racial justice, where a young woman* was killed, and on the other side, there were neo-Nazis, carrying tiki torches, shouting racial epithets, antisemitic slurs, and Donald Trump, when asked about it, said: “There were fine people on both sides.” This is who we have as the President of the United States — and America, you deserve better. Joe Biden will be a president who brings our country together and recognizes the beauty in our diversity, and the fact that we have so much more in common than what separates us.

Wednesday night’s moderator, Susan Page of USA Today, gave Pence a chance to reply. He said:

You know, I think this is one of the things that makes people dislike the media so much in this country, Susan, is that you selectively edit — just like Senator Harris did — the comments that President Trump and I and others on our side of the aisle make. I mean — Senator Harris conveniently omitted, after the president made comments about people on either side of the debate over monuments, he condemned the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists, and has done so repeatedly. You’re concerned that he “doesn’t condemn neo-Nazis”? President Trump has Jewish grandchildren! His daughter and son-in-law are Jewish. This is a president who respects and cherishes all of the American people.

Pence was correct. Trump said the neo-Nazis and white supremacists in Charlottesville should be “condemned totally.”

As Breitbart News has noted in numerous fact checks:

President Trump repeatedly condemned the neo-Nazis in Charlottesville in August 2017 — “totally.”

Moreover, the neo-Nazis were not the only violent group in Charlottesville. The “clash” was not with those “standing against” hate peacefully, but with violent, black-clad Antifa extremists.

As to “very fine people,” Trump had been referring to peaceful protests both for and against the removal of a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee.

He completely condemned the extremists — as the timeline and transcript confirm:

  • Aug. 12, 2017: Trump condemned “violence “on many sides” in Charlottesville, after neo-Nazi and Antifa clashes
  • Aug. 14, 2017: Trump condemned “neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups” in White House statement
  • Aug. 15, 2017: Trump condemned neo-Nazis “totally,” praised non-violent protesters “on both sides” of statue debate

Biden launched his campaign with the Charlottesville hoax, and persisted in doing so, even after Breitbart News confronted him last August with the fact that he was misquoting the president. His words on that occasion, like his words on Wednesday, repeated his campaign launch speech almost verbatim — a script from which he refuses to depart.

President Trump began to correct Biden when he, too, brought up the Charlottesville “very fine people” hoax at last week’s first presidential debate, but he did not have a chance to respond fully, and did not return to the issue later.

After his answer, Pence then launched into a criticism of Harris’s record as a prosecutor in California both as District Attorney for San Francisco and California Attorney General, saying she had continued a pattern of disproportionate prosecution of black Americans, and did nothing about criminal justice reform for minorities when she had the chance.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). His newest e-book is The Trumpian Virtues: The Lessons and Legacy of Donald Trump’s Presidency. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.

*The young woman’s name was Heather Heyer, a fact Biden and Harris appear to omit every time they recite the hoax.


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