WASHINGTON – President Trump issued a forceful condemnation of white supremacists in the wake of the deadly tragedy in Charlottesville, Virginia, after critics claimed his previous remarks blasting “hatred, bigotry and violence” had not been strong enough.
“Racism is evil,” President Trump bluntly stated at the White House Monday, having flown back to Washington during the middle of a vacation in New Jersey.
“And those who cause violence are criminal and thugs,” the president continued, “including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
On Saturday, the president condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” after protests by groups including white supremacists turned into violent clashes with counter-protests by groups that included the radical-leftist Antifa.
Democrats and members of the establishment media strongly criticized the president for not specifically condemning white supremacists.
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However, Trump reiterated: “As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.”
“And, as I have said so many times before,” he continued, “no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws. We all salute the same great flag. And we are all made by the same almighty God.
“We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence. We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans,” Trump said.
The major media’s tenacity in wanting to hold Trump accountable for the weekend violence was vividly evidenced in an exchange between the president and CNN White House reporter Jim Acosta.
After the reporter badgered the president as to why he “didn’t condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend,” Trump eventually pointed a finger directly at Acosta and said, “You’re fake news.”
This was their full exchange:
Acosta: “Mr President, can you explain why you didn’t condemn those hate groups by name over the weekend?”
President Trump: “They have been condemned. They have been condemned.”
Acosta: “Why are we not having a press conference today?”
President Trump: “We had a press conference. We just had a press conference.”
Acosta: “Can we ask you some more questions then, sir?”
President Trump: “It doesn’t bother me at all. But I like real news, not fake news. You’re fake news.”
Watch the full exchange between President Trump and CNN’s Acosta:
Trump had made his remarks condemning hate groups in Charlottesville during a hastily arranged White House event, shortly after noon.
The exchange with Acosta occurred at the end of a previously planned 3:00 o’clock media event, in which the president signed a memo cracking down on China’s “laws, policies, practices, and actions related to intellectual property, innovation, and technology.”
Reporters were upset they were not permitted to ask questions even though the White House had termed the event a press conference.
But Trump, in his comments to Acosta, indicated he knew what questions would have been asked, and that he had already answered them.
During his appearance earlier in the day, the president also announced the FBI “has opened a civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others” in Charlottesville.
Heather Heyer was killed when a protester drove a car into counter-protesters.
“Her death fills us with grief, and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love,” the president said.
See President Trump’s full remarks:
Trump said Heyer and two troopers who died in a helicopter crash “embody the goodness and decency of our nation.”
“In times such as these, America has always shown its true character: responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice,” said Trump.
“We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear,” he said.
Trump concluded, “We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts, and to express the love and joy in their souls.”