NEW YORK — A personal lawyer to President Donald Trump forwarded an email comparing Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee to founding U.S. President George Washington, and saying that the activist movement Black Lives Matter “has been totally infiltrated by terrorist groups,” The New York Times reported Wednesday evening.
The email, with the subject line “The Information that Validates President Trump on Charlottesville,” was forwarded by Trump lawyer John Dowd to conservative journalists, government officials and friends, the Times reported, citing a copy of the email that was provided to them by one of its recipients.
Dowd, a well-known D.C.-based attorney, joined Trump’s personal legal team in June.
On Washington and Lee, the email argues that “both owned slaves,” “both rebelled against the ruling government,” “both men’s battle tactics are still taught at West Point,” “both were great men, great Americans and great commanders” and “both saved America.”
“There literally is no difference between the two men,” the email says, according to The Times. “You cannot be against General Lee and be for General Washington.”
The email fails to point out that George Washington rebelled against the British government and Lee, a Virginian, led military forces against the U.S. government.
The email was originally written by Jerome Almon, an online writer and government conspiracy theorist who told the Times he has spoken with Dowd.
This week, Trump’s response was heavily scrutinized after a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, turned violent and a car rammed through a crowd, leaving one dead.
In the following days, Trump made a series of comments, first condemning aggressors “on many sides,” then specifically naming white supremacists and neo-Nazis, then again on Tuesday seeming to defend some of those marching in protest of the removal of a statue of Lee.
“I think there is blame on both sides,” Trump said to reporters in Trump Tower on Tuesday.
The vague messaging caused politicians on both sides of the aisle to quickly reprimand his remarks and disavow white supremacy.
In a phone interview with The Times, Almon explained why he sent the email to Dowd.
“I was hoping it would get in the hands of President Trump — I quite frankly hope he would review it right now because his presidency is on the line,” he said. “I don’t believe the President is getting the correct advice or proper information. Someone reading what I sent to Dowd will view Robert E. Lee differently.”