Amid fierce backlash, Trump finally condemns white supremacists: Dale
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said at the White House Monday.
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WASHINGTON—U.S. President Donald Trump condemned white supremacists on Monday after two days of withering criticism over his failure to do so.
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans,” Trump said at the White House.
Trump had been denounced even by Republicans for a Saturday statement in which he faulted “many sides” for bigotry and violence at a white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville, Va., where an anti-racist protester was murdered when an apparent white supremacist allegedly ran into her intentionally with a car.
Trump, for the first time, said the name of the murder victim, 32-year-old Charlottesville paralegal Heather Heyer. He did not offer any details about her other than to call her “young,” a marked departure from his vivid descriptions of people killed by illegal immigrants.
Trump, this time, stuck to his prepared text, eschewing the ad-libbed boasting that marked his address on Saturday — though he began by bragging about his economic record. He spoke after a meeting on Charlottesville with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray.
Trump, calling for “love” and “unity,” said the government was opening a civil rights investigation into the “racist violence.” He referred to the alleged car homicide as a “deadly car attack,” declining to call it terrorism; Sessions, in a television appearance on Monday morning, said “it does meet the definition of domestic terrorism.”
“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered. As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence,” Trump said.
“It has no place in America. And as I have said many times before, no matter the colour of our skin, we all live under the same laws, we all salute the same great flag and we are all made by the same almighty God.”
Trump had been silent on Sunday. His administration generated additional criticism when it released an anonymous statement that said Trump condemns “all forms” of bigotry and violence, though that one specified that Trump was including “white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”
On Monday morning, he finally tweeted an emotional statement — criticizing a black business executive for criticizing him. After Ken Frazier, chief executive of the pharmaceutical company Merck and Co., resigned from Trump’s manufacturing advisory council to “take a stand against intolerance and extremism,” Trump lashed out in response.
“Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President’s Manufacturing Council, he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!” he wrote.
Trump has long been reluctant to criticize white supremacists, many of which support him. He has his own extensive history of bigoted and racially inflammatory remarks. And he appointed, as his chief strategist, Steve Bannon, who once ran the Breitbart website he described a “platform” for the white supremacist “alt-right.”
Republican legislators had been among the public figures who castigated Trump for refusing to specifically excoriate neo-Nazis.
“Mr. President — we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists,” Cory Gardner, a senior Republican senator from Colorado, wrote on Twitter.
James Alex Fields, 20, has been charged with second-degree murder. He was denied bail on Monday morning.