PHOENIX (AP) — Phoenix police lobbed what they said was pepper spray at protesters who threw rocks and water bottles at them as President Donald Trump’s rally broke up Tuesday night.
Clouds of the gas filled the night air as the president’s supporters began leaving the downtown Phoenix Convention Center.
There were no immediate reports of injuries, but it was the closest to violence seen all evening.
Trump lashed out at the press on Tuesday for its portrayal of his response to the deadly protest in Charlottesville, Virginia.
Trump says the “very dishonest media” mischaracterized his response to the protest organized by white supremacists.
Trump reread his Charlottesville statements, saying he condemned KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, but he did not repeat his “on many sides” comment, which angered many people following the fatal attack.
Following the attack, Trump said, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides.”
Trump was criticized by Republican and Democrats alike for failing to call out neo-Nazis and other hate groups by name in his first response to the protest and then insisting there was blame on “both sides.”
Trump also said Tuesday night that he thinks the U.S. will “end up probably terminating” the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico “at some point.”
He also told supporters in Phoenix that, “Personally, I don’t think we can make a deal because we have been so badly taken advantage of.” But he cautions he has yet to make up his mind.
His comments come after the U.S., Mexico and Canada began formal negotiations last week to rework the 23-year-old trade pact that Trump slammed during his campaign as the “worst” in history.
The Canadian and Mexican negotiators believe NAFTA needs to be updated. But they have defended the pact, which eliminated most barriers on trade between the countries, as an economic success story.
Additionally, Trump is threatening to shut down the federal government unless Congress provides funding for his promised border wall.
“If we have to close down our government, we’re building that wall,” he said.
Trump is also accusing Democrats of putting American security at risk for not supporting the proposal.
The wall was one of Trump’s most popular campaign vows, prompting frequent rally chants of “Build that wall!” Trump had promised Mexico would pay for the wall, but Mexico has so far refused.
The House has passed a spending bill with funding for the border wall, but it faces an uncertain future in the Senate.
At the rally, Trump also signaled that he wants to grant a pardon to former Sheriff Joe Arpaio over his recent conviction in federal court.
There has been intense speculation in recent days that the president might issue a pardon for Arpaio, best known for his immigration crackdowns as the top lawman in metropolitan Phoenix.
Trump said Tuesday that Arpaio is “going to be just fine” as he awaits sentencing on a misdemeanor contempt-of-court conviction stemming from his defiance of the courts.
Trump says he “won’t do it tonight” because he doesn’t want to cause controversy.
Arpaio and Trump share similar views on immigration enforcement, and the lawman campaigned for Trump several times during the 2016 race.
Trump is also repeating the message of unity he delivered Monday evening.
He says, “this entire arena stands united in forceful condemnation of the thugs that perpetrated hatred and violence.”
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