White House

Trump denounces white supremacists, 'racist' violence — two days after deadly car attack

Key Points
  • President Donald Trump condemns white supremacists, two days after he had his first chance to do so following deadly violence at a white nationalist rally.
  • Trump faced bipartisan criticism for his initial response to the attack.
  • Trump says the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the attack.
Trump denounces white supremacists, 'racist' violence after criticism

President Donald Trump on Monday explicitly condemned white supremacists and "racist" violence, two days after he faced backlash for what many saw as a tepid response to deadly violence at a white nationalist rally.

"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," Trump said at the White House.

Trump's remarks Monday, which came only after significant pressure, likely will not go far enough for critics who felt he should have used that language on Saturday. He also made them Monday after starting his statement by touting stock market records, low unemployment and business optimism.

A white supremacist from Ohio allegedly rammed a car into counterprotesters in Charlottesville, Virginia, killing one and injuring 19. Two police officers aiding the law enforcement efforts for the rally also died in a helicopter crash, but authorities do not suspect foul play.

President Donald Trump speaks about the deadly white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., Monday, Aug. 14, 2017, in the Diplomatic Room of the White House in Washington.
Evan Vucci | AP

Trump, who spoke after meeting with Attorney General Jeff Sessions and FBI Director Christopher Wray, did not specifically label the car attack domestic terrorism. However, his national security advisor H.R. McMaster, has said it was.

On Saturday, Trump condemned hatred and violence "on many sides," but he did not specifically denounce white supremacist groups.

Harsh criticism of Trump's statement came from bipartisan sources. Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said "we should call evil by its name." Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Colo., directed his statement to "Mr. President," saying "these were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism."

Trump further inflamed the criticism Monday by taking to Twitter to hit back at Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, who resigned from the president's manufacturing council over the president's response to the Charlottesville violence.

In his statement Monday, Trump noted that the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation into the car attack.

"To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered," the president said.

He said he condemns the "egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence" that "has no place in America."