Trump condemnation includes white supremacists, White House says
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Trump condemnation includes white supremacists, White House says

US president under fire for not explicitly naming neo-Nazis as responsible for Charlottesville violence

US President Donald Trump, on August 12, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)
US President Donald Trump, on August 12, 2017, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey. / AFP PHOTO / JIM WATSON)

US President Donald Trump’s condemnation of bigotry and hatred at a “Unite the Right” rally in Virginia that turned violent included white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis, the White House insisted Sunday.

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups,” a spokesperson said.

“He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”

A young woman was killed and 19 people were injured Saturday when a car plowed into a crowd in Charlottesville, Virginia after the rally, which had ignited bloody clashes between white supremacists and counter-protesters.

Trump has come under mounting fire, even from members of his own party, for blaming the violence on hatred and bigotry “on many sides,” and not explicitly condemning the white extremist groups at the rally.

Disturbances began Friday night during a torch-lit march through the University of Virginia before escalating Saturday.

The White House was silent for hours except for a tweet from first lady Melania Trump: “Our country encourages freedom of speech, but let’s communicate w/o hate in our hearts.”

Trump later tweeted: “We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for.” He also said “there is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!” Trump tweeted condolences about the woman killed the protests Saturday evening, more than five hours after the crash.

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.”

The president’s reluctance to condemn white bigots also stood in stark contrast by his insistence of calling out “radical Islamic terrorism” by name.

“Now, to solve a problem, you have to be able to state what the problem is or at least say the name,” Trump said in a general election debate.

In his remarks Saturday, Trump mentioned the strong economy and “the many incredible things in our country, so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it’s very, very sad.”

The president has long had a following among white supremacist groups attracted to his nationalist rhetoric on immigration and other hot-button issues.

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