Trump declares ‘racism is evil’ and denounces neo-Nazis, KKK

President Trump delivered a statement from the White House on Monday explicitly condemning violent white supremacists.

“Racism is evil,” Trump said from the White House Diplomatic Room. “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.”

“As I have said many times before, no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws,” the president said. “We all salute the same great flag. And we are all made by the same almighty God.”

The comments came after Trump was widely criticized for only knocking violence from “many sides” at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., where a car was driven into a crowd of counterpotesters, killing a 32-year-old woman and injuring 19 other people. Two Virginia state troopers were also killed when their police helicopter crashed nearby. In his initial remarks Saturday, Trump did not explicitly call out neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members or other self-identified white supremacists there.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides,” the president said during a previously scheduled press event at his golf club in New Jersey. “On many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”

On Sunday, the White House attempted to clarify Trump’s message, saying that the president “condemns all forms of violence” — including hate groups.

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred,” read the statement issued by an unnamed White House spokesperson. “Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”

But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blasted Trump for not explicitly condemning the white supremacists involved.

“It’s very important for the nation to hear @potus describe events in #Charlottesville for what they are, a terror attack by #whitesupremacists,” Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., tweeted.

“We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville,” New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said in a statement. “Everyone in leadership must speak out.”

“Mr. President, we must call evil by its name,” Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., added. “These were white supremacists, and this was domestic terrorism.”

In his statement Monday, Trump did not use the word “terrorism” to describe the car attack in Charlottesville.

A vehicle is driven into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. (Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)
A vehicle is driven into a group of protesters demonstrating against a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., on Aug. 12, 2017. (Photo: Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP)

Charlottesville Mayor Michael Signer said Trump bears responsibility for the violence that erupted in his city.

“Look at the campaign he ran,” Signer said in an interview with CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday. “I mean, look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand of all these white supremacists, white nationalists — a group like that — anti-Semitic groups, and then look on the other hand: the repeated failure to step up, condemn, denounce, silence — you know, put to bed all those different efforts, just like we saw yesterday. I mean, this is not hard.”

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, Trump’s national security adviser, said Trump’s denunciation of hate groups went without saying.

“When he condemned bigotry and hatred on all sides, that includes white supremacists and neo-Nazis, and I think it’s clear,” McMaster said. “I know it’s clear in his mind.”

On Sunday, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter and White House adviser, issued a two-part statement on Twitter denouncing the hate groups.

“There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” Ivanka Trump tweeted.

She added: “We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED.”

Earlier Monday, before delivering his statement denouncing the KKK, Trump lashed out at Kenneth Frazier after the Merck & Co. chief executive resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council.

“America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal,” Frazier said in a statement.

Trump promptly tore into Frazier, tweeting that his resignation will give him more time to “LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!”

In his tweet, the president did not hesitate to call out Frazier by name.

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