BRIDGEWATER (New Jersey) NYTIMES – The White House, under siege over President Donald Trump’s equivocal response to this weekend’s bloody white nationalist rallies in Charlottesville, Virginia, on Sunday (Aug 13) condemned “white supremacists” for inciting the violence that led to one death.
The statement – issued more than 36 hours after the protests began – came in an email sent to reporters in the president’s travelling press pool, and it was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson. It was not attributed directly to Trump, who often uses Twitter to communicate directly on controversial topics.
The statement was sent “in response” to questions about Trump’s widely criticised remarks, in which he blamed the unrest “on many sides” while speaking on Saturday.
The criticism of Trump intensified on Sunday, with lawmakers from both parties calling on him to explicitly condemn the role of white racists and agitators affiliated with the so-called alt-right, some of whom brandished pro-Trump banners and campaign placards during violent protests over the removal of a Robert E Lee statue from a Charlottesville park.
“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. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” the White House statement on Sunday said.
Thomas P Bossert, the White House homeland security adviser, in an interview Sunday on CNN’s State of the Union, dismissed any suggestion that the president had failed to adequately condemn white supremacists.
Bossert praised the statement the president made on Saturday – which denounced the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” – saying that Trump had appropriately criticised an event that “turned into an unacceptable level of violence at all levels”.
Trump consulted a broad range of advisers before speaking on Saturday, most of whom told him to sharply criticise the white nationalist protesters. The president listened attentively, according to a person familiar with the discussions, but repeatedly steered the conversation back to the breakdown of “law and order”, and the responsibility of local officials to stem the violence.
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