While Mr Trump’s own national security adviser described the attack as an act of “terrorism” the US president was criticised for waiting too long to address it and when he did, failing to explicitly condemn the white-supremacist marchers who ignited the melee.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence, on many sides. On many sides,” Mr Trump said on Saturday. “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.”
A number of Republican senators, both conservative and moderate, condemned the president’s response to Charlottesville.
US Republican Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado called on the president to condemn “white supremacists” and to use the term.
“Mr President — we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism,” tweeted Senator Gardner.
Mr Trump’s national security adviser H.R. McMaster echoed this view on US ABC on Sunday.
“Any time that you commit an attack against people to incite fear, it is terrorism,” Mr McMaster told George Stephanopoulos.
US Senator Marco Rubio said the president needed to define the events as “domestic terrorism” at the hands of white supremacists.
Senator Orrin Hatch of Utah got more personal when he gave his warning.
“My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home,” Senator Hatch wrote on Twitter.
Even former White House Communications Director, Anthony Scaramucci — also known as ‘the Mooch’ — slammed Mr Trump’s response.
“With the moral authority of the presidency, you have to call that stuff out,” Mr Scaramucci told US ABC News’ George Stephanopoulos during his first post-White House interview.
“I wouldn’t have recommended that statement,” said Mr Scaramucci, who held his White House position for just 10 days. “I think he would have needed to have been much harsher as it related to the white supremacists.”
Mr Scaramucci blamed the influence of White House strategist Steve Bannon for Mr Trump’s not fully condemning white supremacists and neo-Nazis as terror groups.
Mr Bannon formerly edited the Breitbart News website, which is a platform for alt-right views and has been used to attack members of Trump’s administration, including his national security adviser.
Aside from the president’s daughter Ivanka and son-in-law Jared Kushner few people in the White House can talk bluntly to Mr Trump, Mr Scaramucci said.
“But you also have this Bannon- b art influence in there which I think is a snag on the president,” he said.
1:2 There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.
If Trump really wants to executive his legislative agenda to help middle-class Americans, “then he has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense …. The whole thing is nonsensical and it’s not serving the president’s interest. He’s got to move more to the mainstream and he’s got to be more where the moderates are and the independents are … that love the president.”
On Sunday morning, Ivanka Trump, the president’s daughter, tweeted for Americans to “be one country UNITED. #Charlottesville”. She also posted: “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.”
The Charlottesville mayor on Sunday, meanwhile, directly blamed the heated rhetoric of Mr Trump’s presidential campaign for emboldening white supremacists.
“Look at the campaign he ran. Look at the intentional courting, both on the one hand all of these white supremacist, white nationalist groups like that, anti-Semitic groups, and then look on the other hand the repeated failure to step up and condemn, denounce, silence, put to bed, all of those different efforts just like we saw yesterday, and this is not hard,” Mayor Michael Signer said on CNN.
Mayor Signer, speaking a day after hate groups engaged in violence encounters with counter-protesters, questioned the president’s leadership.
“Our democracy has been through a lot in the last century. Our city has been through a lot in the last century. We have come in this country through McCarthyism, segregation, Jim Crowe, and we’ve come through stronger than before that, but what’s going to happen now is that we’re all going to stand together on this new effort and that begins with a city like Charlottesville, but it should include the president,” the Democrat said.
A Washington Post editorial on Sunday was one of many in major news outlets questioning the president’s response to the shocking violence and scenes of people waving Nazi flags.
“Trump knows what was at work on those streets and who was behind it,” it read.
“As well he should. They are some of the same forces that helped to put him in the White House. On hand giving the clan of white nationalists a verbal boost was former Ku Klux Klan leader and pre-eminent white nationalist David Duke.
“That was your crowd down there in Old Virginia, Donald Trump. They were speaking your language, vomiting your sentiments, acting out what animates you from within.”