President Donald Trump on Monday offered a stronger condemnation of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia, after initially failing to denounce such people explicitly over the weekend.
Speaking from the White House, Trump said those who committed “racist violence” at a white-nationalist protest over the weekend would be held accountable by law enforcement.
“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.”
He added moments later: “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.”
The president also said he met with FBI Director Chris Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions about the criminal investigation into the killing of a 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, when a driver rammed a car into a crowd of counterprotesters on Saturday.
Members of both parties have heavily criticized Trump since his first statement about the violence, on Saturday, offered no specific condemnation of neo-Nazis, instead denouncing the violence on “many sides.” Some white supremacists online cheered Trump’s statement on Saturday for its ambiguity.
Several members of his administration such as Vice President Mike Pence and national security adviser H.R. McMaster offered more explicit statements condemning hate groups, while the White House communications office issued several anonymous statements justifying the president’s initial hesitance to single out neo-Nazis.