Trump's aides were reportedly shocked that he publicly aired his private thoughts on the alt-right
It was inevitable that President Trump would face more questions about last weekend's violent "Unite the Right" march in Charlottesville, Virginia, and his belated condemnation on Monday of the neo-Nazi, white supremacists, and KKK members who led it. But "it did not seem inevitable, says Phillip Bump at The Washington Post, "that Trump's responses to questions about those protests would cement as correct the general interpretation of his first comments on the matter: He's sympathetic to the goals of the men who marched Saturday night carrying Confederate and Nazi flags — and even to the 'peaceful' torchlight protest on Friday in which marchers chanted anti-Semitic and Nazi slogans."
That was certainly the interpretation "alt-right" and white nationalist leaders took away from Trump's remarks at his press conference on Tuesday afternoon at Trump Tower. But it was also essentially what Trump's staff thought, Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman report at The New York Times:
No word in the Trump lexicon is as tread-worn as "unprecedented." But members of the president's staff, stunned and disheartened, said they never expected to hear such a voluble articulation of opinions that the president had long expressed in private. ... No sooner had he delivered the Monday statement than he began railing privately to his staff about the news media. He fumed to aides about how unfairly he was being treated, and expressed sympathy with nonviolent protesters who he said were defending their "heritage," according to a West Wing official. [The New York Times]
Trump had been pressed to unequivocally condemn neo-Nazis and white supremacists on Monday by his new chief of staff, John Kelly, and daughter Ivanka Trump and son-in-law Jared Kushner urged him to moderate his stance, Thrush and Haberman report, though "as with so many other critical moments in Mr. Trump's presidency, the two were on vacation, this time in Vermont." Kelly was not on vacation, and if you want to know what it was like for Trump's "stunned and disheartened" staff to hear Trump's remarks Tuesday, NBC News has a close-up of Kelly.
You can read more about Trump's decision to go lay it all out there at The New York Times.