Donald Trump finally issued a direct condemnation of racism on Monday after criticism of his response to the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia, which left one woman dead.
On a brief visit to Washington, the president used an address from the White House to say: “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.”
The explicit remarks came after a storm of criticism – some from prominent figures in his own party – over his decision not to directly condemn the white supremacy groups that targeted Charlottesville, Virginia, at the weekend.
But Trump stopped short of describing Saturday’s violence as an act of terrorism, as attorney general Jeff Sessions has done.
Sessions – with whom the president has frequently clashed over the Russia inquiry in recent weeks – told ABC the “evil attack” in Charlottesville “does meet the definition of domestic terrorism in our statute”.
The attorney general went on to defend Trump, telling NBC the president had “clearly” denounced such violence and “totally opposes” the values of white supremacy organizations, and saying a more sweeping condemnatory statement released by the White House on Sunday, a day after Trump’s initial and widely criticised remarks, reflected the president’s views.
The US president ignored shouted media questions about the violence as he returned to the White House from his working vacation in New Jersey for what is expected to be a one-day visit before a trip to Trump Tower in New York tonight.
“Do you condemn the actions of neo-Nazis? Do you condemn the actions of white supremacists?” Trump was asked.
The president met with Sessions and the new FBI director, Chris Wray,to discuss the racism-fueled clashes on the streets of the city on Saturday.
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