Native American elder Nathan Phillips said Thursday that he is ready to “forgive” the Covington Catholic students. He also continued to insist that he bore no fault for the confrontation that spawned a viral video over the weekend.
During a wide-ranging interview with “Today Show” host Savannah Guthrie, Phillips explained details of the confrontation at the Lincoln Memorial, sticking to several points that have since been debunked by video evidence. (RELATED: Nathan Phillips Keeps Changing His Story, Still Keeps Getting It Wrong)
Guthrie began the interview by asking whether Phillips had seen her interview with Nick Sandmann, the high school student Phillips had come face-to-face with as he beat his drum.
“I was upset I was made to sit down and watch it. I read his statement. When I got into the first — well, somebody tried to show it to me before I went to my prayer ceremony. I got into about the first 30 seconds, 40 seconds of it, and I said, well, that’s all I needed to hear,” Phillips said.
When Guthrie asked what he thought of Sandmann’s words, he added, “Coached and written up for him, insincerity, lack of responsibility. You know, those are the words that I came up with. But then I went to go pray about it, and I woke up with this forgiving heart. So I forgive him.”
Guthrie challenged Phillips then on his claim that the boys had chanted “build the wall” — something that she noted was not audible on any of the available videos of the interaction.
But Phillips doubled down anyway, saying, “You know, I did hear that. I have seen some out there on the — on the internet, where — you can hear ‘build that wall.'”
Phillips went on to repeat his claim that the students surrounded him — in spite of multiple videos which showed him walking purposefully into the group, stopping only when he was face to face with Sandmann.
“That mass of young men surrounded me, and the folks that were with me. It was a moment to — when I was in prayer, it wasn’t that I felt like I could stop anything or do anything, but I felt like I was spirituality moved into that center, into that center of that whirlwind, as you were saying,” he said.
Phillips made no mention of the fact that his companions, once they had pushed their way into the crowd, yelled at the boys, “Go back to Europe! This is not your land!”
He then repeated his earlier claim that he was trying to get away — however, video from multiple angles shows no visible attempt from Phillips to get away from the crowd, nor does it show any visible attempt made by any of the students to prevent him from doing so.
Phillips then said once again that, “I still have that forgiveness in my heart for those students,” adding that he believes that the adults and chaperones from the school also bore some responsibility for the exchange.
At no point did Phillips acknowledge any responsibility for instigating the confrontation, nor did he offer any apology for misrepresenting the facts in the days since.