Following the media’s brouhaha around President Trump’s apparent decision not to specifically call out and condemn the white supremacists and neo-Nazis who gathered in Charlottesville this weekend, The White House has issued a statement confirmingthat the president “does not condone violence, bigotry, and hatred… from any extremist groups.”
As The Hill reports, Trump took bipartisan heat on Saturday for not directly calling out hate groups in his remarks, and for blaming “many sides” for 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 at a press conference from his New Jersey golf course.
“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,” he continued, before highlighting his administration’s accomplishments.
And so, as WaPo reports, in interviews on Sunday morning news shows, national security adviser H.R. McMaster and homeland security adviser Tom Bossert echoed the vague comments that the president made in a statement at his private golf club in New Jersey on Saturday, signaling that Trump does not plan to heed calls from fellow Republicans to bluntly confront and condemn white supremacy.
“What the president did is he called out anyone, anyone who is responsible for fomenting this kind of bigotry, hatred, racism and violence,” McMaster said on ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday morning. “I think the president was very clear on that.”
On CNN, Bossert repeatedly praised the president for not naming the groups that were involved and instead focusing on an overarching call for Americans to love one another.
He said that people “on both sides” showed up in Charlottesville “looking for trouble” and that he won’t assign blame for the death of a counterprotester on either group, although he said the president would like to see “swift justice” for the victim. After repeated questioning, Bossert did say that he personally condemns “white supremacists and Nazi groups that espouse this sort of terrorism and exclusion.” He did not say whether the president agrees with him on that.
“The president not only condemned the violence and stood up at a time and a moment when calm was necessary and didn’t dignify the names of these groups of people, but rather addressed the fundamental issue,” Bossert said on CNN’s “State of the Union.” “And so … what you need to focus on is the rest of his statement.”
But apparently that was not clear enough and so The White House issued a brief statement:
“The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred,” the White House said in a statement.
“Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups,” a spokesperson added.
“He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Trump’s eldest daughter, Ivanka Trump, took to Twitter on Sunday morning to write two short messages: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis,” and “We must all come together as Americans — and be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville.”