In response to a question at the Aspen Security Forum about white nationalist protests in Charlottesville, Department of Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen claimed that “it's not that one side is right, one side is wrong” but that “anybody that is advocating violence, we need to work to mitigate.” Heather Heyer was killed in Charlottesville after a white nationalist drove a car into a crowd. After Trump in his reactions said that “many sides” and “both sides” were responsible for the violence in Charlottesville, white nationalist media cheered him on. In fact, Trump's remarks were ripped from right-wing media, as Fox & Friends even defended the white nationalist protesters. Multiple staffers at DHS and agencies within also have ties to extremists.
From the July 19 Aspen Security Forum:
PETER ALEXANDER (NBC NEWS CORRESPONDENT): When [President Donald Trump], when in the comments that were obviously highly publicized, when he placed blame, in his words, on both sides, does that make your job harder when the president ... says things that at least in [white supremacist] communities are viewed as he's got our back?
KIRSTJEN NIELSEN (SECRETARY, DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY): I think what's interesting about that is we saw, you know, and I think we continue to learn, maybe there was different, you know, whether it was foreign influence or different purposeful attempts to get both sides, if you will, aggressively pitted against each other, I think that what I see DHS' role, and again we we work with the larger community -- DHS is the largest law enforcement agency, that's not well known, we have 66,000 sworn law enforcement officials -- but we have to work with everyone to help communities understand what are the warning signs, what are the ways in which we can prepare. And that's no matter who it is. I think what's important about that conversation is it's not that one side is right, one side is wrong. Anybody that is advocating violence, we need to work to mitigate.