On Monday, President Donald Trump gave in to bipartisan criticism over his poorly-conceived condemnation of a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, VA.
“Racism is evil,” the president said, speaking in frank terms at a hastily arranged press conference. “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.”
“Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America,” he said, addressing reporters and assorted officials gathered at the White House.
“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” Trump promised, adding, “Justice will be delivered.”
The comments come after a day of controversy, which saw the commander-and-chief blasted by congressional Republicans and Democrats alike.
In a statement Sunday, Trump avoided pointed fingers at the violence in Charlottesville, which left 32-year old Heather Heyer dead after a young man rammed his car into a crowd of counter-protesters.
“I should put out a comment as to what’s going on in Charlottesville,” the president said, announcing that, “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many, many sides.”
A number of Republican senators, including Orrin Hatch (UT) and Cory Gardner (CO), immediately sprung on the offensive, blasting the commander-in-chief for refusing to place the blame solely on the white supremacists behind much of Saturday’s violence.
“We should call evil by its name,” wrote the 83-year old Hatch. “My brother didn’t give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home.”
Reporters attending Monday’s press conference were quick to ask why the president hadn’t immediately condemned the white supremacist organizers of the ‘Unite the Right’ rally in Charlottesville.
Donald Trump didn’t directly respond to any of the questions, saying instead that the Virginia victims “embody the goodness and decency of our nation.”
Nineteen people were injured when 20-year old neo-Nazi James Fields, Jr., rammed his Dodge Challenger into a crowd of counter-protesters. The attack led to the death of Heyer, a local paralegal whose acquaintances praised her strong sense of justice and lifelong stance against discrimination.
Two Virginia State Police officers also died in Charlottesville. The officers – pilot Lt. H. Jay Cullen and Trooper M.M. Bates – had been monitoring the protests from above when their helicopter crashed.
Trump said the two deceased officers’ careers and ultimate sacrifice “exemplify the very best of America.”
“In times such as these, America has always shown its true character – responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice,” the president said.
Despite Trump’s efforts to put the controversy to rest, critics still noted the speed with which he condemned the departure of Ken Frazier, CEO of Merck Pharma, from the President’s Manufacturing Council.
Now that Ken Frazier of Merck Pharma has resigned from President's Manufacturing Council,he will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
Frazier – one of the nation’s top African-American corporate officers – resigned after the commander-in-chief dispersed the blame for Charlottesville to ‘many parties,’ rather than calling out the bigots who’d instigated violence.