A White House statement issued Sunday said President Trump does condemn the bigotry and racism espoused by white nationalists, adding clarity to a clumsy speech blaming “many sides” for ratcheting up racial tensions before the Charlottesville violence.
“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,” the White House said in a statement issued to the press.
Trump’s comments Saturday after a car barreled through a crowd of people protesting a white nationalist gathering were widely panned for failing to single-out the hate group at the center of it all.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides. It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time,” Trump said during a bill signing and then ignored requests by reporters to specifically denounce white hate groups.
Still, the greater clarity did not come from Trump himself, who had also resisted requests last year to denounce white supremacists that publicly supported his campaign. His silence was cheered by the white supremacist website Daily Stormer: “When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”
When pressed, a White House spokesman Saturday quickly expanded Trump’s comment, saying he was “condemning hatred, bigotry and violence from all sources and all sides. There was violence between protestors and counterprotestors today.” Then throughout the weekend, Trump Administration spokesmen evolved the response by saying Trump’s comment did cover white nationalists.
White nationalists groups organized Saturday’s march to protest the city’s plans to remove a Confederate monument of Gen. Robert E. Lee. Leading up to the gathering, organizers touted they would “unify the right-wing” to influence American policies regarding immigration and advance their racist agenda.
The governor of Virginia declared a state of emergency as violent clashes erupted between protestors and counter-protestors Saturday and a car plowed into crowds, leaving one person dead and 19 injured.