Almost 48 hours after racist violence engulfed Charlottesville, Va., President Trump called out white nationalist groups by name. Trump’s remarks on Monday follow criticism that his initial statement about the clash of protesters did not condemn racist groups specifically.
“Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” the president said from the White House.
Trump began his remarks talking about his economic accomplishments and plans for trade negotiations before turning his attention to the events over the weekend in Virginia and expressing sympathy for the three people who were killed. Heather Heyer, 32, died after a car rammed into a group of counter protesters. Two Virginia State Troopers, Pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper-Pilot Berke M.M. Bates, died when their helicopter that was patrolling the event crashed.
Trump said that the Department of Justice had opened a civil rights investigation into the car attack.
“To anyone who acted criminally at this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered,” the president said.
But for many, the president’s condemnations may be too little too late. His initial statement on Saturday, claiming that the clashes were a result of “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” was quickly criticized by many top Republicans for not calling out the white supremacists, alt-right, Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups who began the protests against the removal of a statute of the Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.
The White House put out an unsigned statement on Sunday morning, saying that, “The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred and of course that includes white Supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Vice President Pence went further than the president, telling reporters Sunday night while traveling in Colombia, “We have no tolerance for hate and violence from white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK. These dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life and in the American debate, and we condemn them in the strongest possible terms.”
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