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Globe editorial: For Donald Trump, there is no coming back from this

On Tuesday, in a re-reversal of a statement he made on Monday about a statement he made on Saturday, U.S. President Donald Trump said there were some "very fine people" on both sides of the weekend's tragic events in Charlottesville, Va.

Here is one of the white supremacists who was behind the neo-Nazi rallies in Charlottesville talking about Mr. Trump:

"I'm here to spread ideas [about white supremacy]… in the hopes that somebody more capable will come along and do that. Somebody like Donald Trump who does not give his daughter to a Jew," Christopher Cantwell tells a Vice reporter in a video recorded before the violence broke out.

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Read more: Trump's rebuke of hate groups in wake of Charlottesville violence decried as 'too little, too late'

"So Donald Trump but, like, more racist," the reporter says.

"A lot more racist," says Mr. Cantwell. "I don't think you can feel about race the way I do and watch that Kushner bastard walk around with that beautiful girl, okay?"

Mr. Trump expressed concern Tuesday that people like Mr. Cantwell were being unfairly tarred with the violence in Charlottesville. He wanted to know why what he called the "alt-left" – the counter-protesters who marched for equality – wasn't subject to the same criticism as the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who think he betrayed his race by allowing his daughter to marry a Jew.

"Do they [the "alt-left"] have any semblance of guilt?" he asked the media during a press conference in New York on Tuesday.

The more important question at this point is, does the President have any semblance of credibility left? His latest statements are the smoking-gun evidence that he sympathizes with American white supremacists, including those in the Ku Klux Klan and the neo-Nazi movement.

Whether he is doing it only for the votes, or to signal to his supporters that he shares their dislike of the liberal left, or simply because he is so desperate for praise that he will take it from anyone, no matter how disgusting they are and even if they attack his children and in-laws, is irrelevant.

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The point is that Mr. Trump has done the morally indefensible.

This is a man who has made a political career out of being disreputable and disruptive, and who has always had the ability to recover from embarrassing gaffes and disturbing revelations.

But not this time. It is henceforth impossible for the President to credibly condemn the racist and violent right-wing groups that were the only people responsible for provoking the violence in Charlottesville, and for the death of a woman hit by a car driven into a crowd of peaceful counter-protesters by one of the racist marchers.

His contention that both sides bear responsibility for the weekend tragedy is absurd. So is his claim that there were "very fine people" involved in what he claims was nothing more than a legal protest against the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee from a Charlottesville park.

The torch-light march on Friday and the rally on Saturday were 100-per-cent organized by racists like Mr. Cantwell. Most of the participants came from outside of Charlottesville in a deliberate attempt to make a show of strength for their burgeoning cause. Anyone who joined them would have had to explicitly support their views.

In other words, not "very fine people."

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And while it is fair to critique the behaviour of some of the counterprotesters, to attempt, as Mr. Trump did, to equate people who carry torches and yell Nazi slogans – who call for an "ethno-state," who refer to black people as "animals," who are so viciously anti-Semitic – with the anti-racism advocates standing up to them is to be morally depraved.

Mr. Trump's failing administration is now in near-complete chaos. On Wednesday, he was forced to disband two White House advisory boards after the influential CEOs who sit on them made it clear they could no longer support a president who holds such repugnant views.

His staff, too, is in disarray. They now know that, even on the most sensitive and difficult issues, the President cannot be controlled, and cannot prevent himself from sabotaging his own administration. It is impossible to imagine that there won't be more upheaval in the White House in the coming days.

The only people happy with Mr. Trump this week are the racists. "Trump's statement was fair and down to earth," tweeted Richard Spencer, one of the white supremacist leaders behind the Charlottesville rally.

"Thank you President Trump for your honesty & courage to tell the truth," tweeted David Duke, a former KKK leader.

Mr. Duke claimed in Charlottesville that he and his fellow racists were fighting against the "ethnic cleansing of America and the destruction of the American way of life."

Is that what Donald Trump is doing, too?

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