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White House: Trump ‘condemns’ white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups

The White House
The White House

(CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va.) — In the wake of the violence that led to three deaths and 19 injuries during and after a planned white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Saturday, a White House spokesperson said Sunday that President Donald Trump “condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” including white supremacy.

The new statement on Sunday comes a day after the president was widely criticized for not explicitly condemning white supremacy in his remarks. The president himself has still not addressed the omission directly.

“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. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” a White House spokesperson said.

ABC News asked the president Saturday if he wants the support of white nationalist groups, who say they support him, and whether he feels he’s denounced them strongly enough. The president on Saturday did not answer any questions from reporters, however, after he’d taken questions from reporters extensively in prior days.

Trump first tweeted about the violence in Charlottesville Saturday afternoon.

We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017

Later on Saturday, speaking from his golf club in New Jersey, Trump made a statement to address the violence.

“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said. “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. What is vital now is a swift restoration of law and order and the protection of innocent lives.”

Afterwards, former Vice President Joe Biden responded on Twitter, writing, “There is only one side.”

Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., directly called out the president on Twitter, writing, “Mr. President — we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists, and this was domestic terrorism.”

On Fox News Sunday, Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-S.C., agreed with Gardner.

Graham said President Trump “missed an opportunity to be very explicit here.”

“These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House,” he said. “I don’t know why they believe that, but they don’t see me as a friend in the Senate, and I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend.”

On Saturday, white nationalists held the Unite the Right rally to protest the city of Charlottesville’s decision to remove the statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from Emancipation Park downtown. They were met with hundreds of counterprotesters and fights quickly broke out, which led Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe to declare a state of emergency.

Later in the day, a silver Dodge Challenger rammed into a crowd of counterprotesters. One woman — 32-year-old Heather Heyer — was killed and 19 others were injured, according to Charlottesville City Police Department.

Authorities said the driver of that car was 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. Fields, along with three other individuals, was arrested.

Two Virginia State Police officers were killed in connection to the rally. Lt. H. Jay Cullen, 48, of Midlothian, Virginia, and Trooper-Pilot Berke Bates of Quinton, Virginia, died when their helicopter crashed as they were “assisting public safety resources with the ongoing situation in Charlottesville,” a Virginia State Police spokesperson said in a statement. The crash is still being investigated.

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