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Trump faulted for not explicitly rebuking white supremacists

By Associated Press

This article was published August 13, 2017 at 12:06 p.m.



BEDMINSTER, N.J. — President Donald Trump is drawing criticism from Republicans and Democrats for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists in the aftermath of violent clashes in Virginia, with lawmakers saying he needs to take a public stand against groups that espouse racism and hate.

Trump, while on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, addressed the nation Saturday soon after a car plowed into a group of anti-racist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, a college town where neo-Nazis and white nationalists had assembled for march. The president did not single out any group, instead blaming "many sides" for the violence.

"Hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now," he said. "We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and ... true affection for each other."

Trump condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides." He added: "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."

On Sunday, the White House issued a statement seeking to expand on Trump's remarks:

"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," according to a White House spokesperson. "He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together."

The White House would not attach a staffer's name to the statement.

The president on Saturday did not answer questions from reporters about whether he rejected the support of white nationalists or whether he believed the car crash was an example of domestic terrorism. Aides who appeared on the Sunday news shows said the White House did believe those things, but many fellow Republicans demanded that Trump personally denounce the white supremacists.

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

Added Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla.: "Nothing patriotic about #Nazis,the #KKK or #WhiteSupremacists It's the direct opposite of what #America seeks to be."

GOP Chris Christie of New Jersey, a staunch Trump supporter, wrote: "We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out."

On the Democrat side, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer of New York said "of course we condemn ALL that hate stands for. Until @POTUS specifically condemns alt-right action in Charlottesville, he hasn't done his job."

And Democratic Gov. Terry McAuliffe of Virginia, who spoke to Trump in the hours after the clashes, said he twice "said to him we have to stop this hateful speech, this rhetoric." He urged Trump "to come out stronger" against the actions of white supremacists.

Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said Sunday that he considered the attack in Charlottesville to be terrorism:

"I certainly think anytime that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism," McMaster told ABC's "This Week."

"It meets the definition of terrorism. But what this is, what you see here, is you see someone who is a criminal, who is committing a criminal act against fellow Americans."

The president's homeland security adviser, Tom Bossert, defended the president's statement by suggesting that some of the counter-protesters were violent too.

When pressed, he specifically condemned the racist groups. The president's daughter and White House aide, Ivanka Trump, tweeted Sunday morning: "There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis."

White nationalists had assembled in Charlottesville to vent their frustration against the city's plans to take down a statue of Confederal Gen. Robert E. Lee. Counter-protesters massed in opposition. A few hours after violent encounters between the two groups, a car drove into a crowd of people peacefully protesting the rally. The driver was later taken into custody.

Alt-right leader Richard Spencer and former Ku Klux Klan member David Duke attended the demonstrations. Duke told reporters that the white nationalists were working to "fulfill the promises of Donald Trump."

Trump's speech also drew praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: "Trump comments were good. He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. ... No condemnation at all."

The website had been promoting the Charlottesville demonstration as part of its "Summer of Hate" edition.

Mayor Michael Signer, a Democrat, said he was disgusted that the white nationalists had come to his town and blamed Trump for inflaming racial prejudices with his campaign last year.

"I'm not going to make any bones about it. I place the blame for a lot of what you're seeing in American today right at the doorstep of the White House and the people around the president," he said.

Trump, as a candidate, frequently came under scrutiny for being slow to offer his condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciation of the movement has not come voluntarily, only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, once declared that his former news site, Breitbart, was "the platform for the alt-right."

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Displaying 1 - 7 of 7 total comments

ARMNAR says... August 13, 2017 at 12:21 p.m.

He can't afford to alienate his base.

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TimberTopper says... August 13, 2017 at 12:36 p.m.

So true armnar

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RBear says... August 13, 2017 at 4:30 p.m.

Many have noted that Trump's words were such to avoid implicating his core base. Quite honestly, he doesn't have the skills to craft a message that can do such without overtly doing so. He's just not skilled at careful oration and says whatever is on his mind. While some may view that as an asset, anyone in public service or public relations knows the long term impact those statements have. Such is the case here.
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As expected, the White House has tried to clean up the mess and didn't do a very good job, trying to thread the needle of Trump's ambiguity and something the American people were really looking for. US leaders on both sides are stealing the pulpit from Trump on this one and further wounding his effectiveness in D.C. This is blood sport and Trump lost on this one.

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arkateacher54 says... August 13, 2017 at 6:45 p.m.

He was right to say many sides. Those protesters knew exactly what they were getting into, blacks showing up at a white-supremacist march. Besides how many times have we seen Antifa and BLM and assorted black groups and non-groups riot in the streets and burn cars and businesses, Ferguson, Baltimore, Berkeley etc. and spout out hatred for the police, for white people. But it isn't politically correct to point out that sort of thing. This afternoon some fool on NPR flat-out lied and said BLM and Antifa had not committed acts of violence like the white supremacist groups. I quote one of my favorite philosophers, Rodney - Can't we all just get along? It's hard when "many sides" don't want to.

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RBear says... August 13, 2017 at 9:08 p.m.

arkateacher, your comment is already racist in the way you framed it. "Those protesters knew exactly what they were getting into, blacks showing up at a white-supremacist march." Did you know the person killed was white? I have friends who traveled from Richmond to stand with their white and black friends in Charlottesville against the protesters. In other words, these were Americans of all races standing against white nationalists who came to protest the removal of a statue the city of Charlottesville has every right to remove.
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No, the trouble came to Charlottesville and the citizens of the town and supportive friends stood against them. Did you know that Friday night white nationalists marched on the UVA campus with torches shouting "blood and soil" (Google it up for the meaning), surrounding students at the Jefferson statue, assaulting them? Do the research on this matter.
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Every rational and sensible leader in America is calling this out for what it was. A bunch of white nationalists invading a town with the intentions of a confrontation. Their tactics were pure intimidation tactics. Their aim was provocation. The only one who can't seem to say the words, as he likes to remind others regarding another type terrorism, is our president.

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carpenterretired says... August 13, 2017 at 9:58 p.m.

Hopefully racism will fade with each new generation ,however for those raised during segregation or in the aftermath decades it is often most easy to cling to the cultural past than to face the reality of their own inherent racism.

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RBear says... August 14, 2017 at 4:29 a.m.

carpenterretired, hopefully it will But if you look on the faces of those at the Friday night invasion of UVA, they are mostly young millennials. The terrorist in the vehicle was 20 years old. It's a cancer that continues to spread.

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