“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,” President Donald Trump said this afternoon, in a better-late-than-never condemnation of those who staged the violent rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the core of America,” said Trump in brief remarks at the White House, taking no questions from reporters. The president returned to Washington from his Jersey White House/golf club for part of today.
“The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent person and injured 20 others… To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held accountable,” Trump said.
He began his remarks boasting about the stock market and the economy, before getting to his do-over on addressing the weekend’s violence, in which a woman protesting the rally was killed by an Ohio man who had told his mother he was going to Charlottesville to attend a pro-Trump rally. James Alex Fields Jr. has been charge with second-degree murder.
Trump spoke of the victim, Heather Heyer, who died when Fields was caught on video appearing to deliberately plow his vehicle into a group of people protesting the rally. Trump also paid tribute to two Virginia state troopers who died on the job over the weekend. Those three victims, Trump said, “exemplify the very best of America and our hearts go out to their family and friends.”
Trump’s do-over remarks came in response to crushing public pressure, after failing to a deliver a full-throated condemnation of the violent weekend that began as a protest of Charlottesville’s plans to remove a statue of a Confederate statue. Among rally organizers: Trump champion and former KKK chief David Duke, who had told reporters they were “taking back” the country per Trump’s campaign promises.
On Saturday, Trump got blasted by media and even some Republic lawmakers for his “many sides” statement on the Charlottesville violence.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump had said Saturday in his statement from his private golf club. “It has been going on for a long time in our country — not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. It has been going on for a long, long time. It has no place in America.”
Mirroring his handling of a campaign endorsement from Duke, Trump in his Saturday remarks had dodged referencing white nationalism, and left it to others in his administration to do damage control, insisting Trump had done what he had not – this time including Attorney General Jeff Sessions and First Daughter Ivanka Trump:
Count Ana Navarro among those today saying it’s way too late for Trump’s remarks. Early this morning, on CNN, the GOP strategist said that Saturday had been “such a moment for [Trump].
“And he blew it to such a level, in order to pander to members of his base who he did not want to antagonize at a moment when the country wanted so badly needed to hear from the president of the United States about healing and unity and condemning white supremacy and condemning racism and condemning Neo-Nazis.”
“He was a coward,” Navarro blasted. “He did not have the spine to behave like the leader of the Untied States,” she added, calling him a “nincompoop.”