In the wake of the attack that left one woman dead and 19 others badly injured, President Donald Trump failed to directly denounce white supremacists for inciting deadly violence at a “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend.
His lukewarm response to the racially charged unrest sparked harsh criticism from leaders on both sides of the political aisle.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said in a brief statement on Saturday, Aug. 12, seeming to place equal blame on white nationalists and a group of counter-protesters for the chaos and violence that unfolded.
A large group of people were protesting in response to the white supremacist rally Saturday afternoon when a car suddenly barreled through and killed 32-year-old Heather Heyer. Two law enforcement officers also were killed in a freak helicopter accident not too far from the attack while trying to monitor the unrest.
“It’s been going on for a long time in our country,” the president continued. “Not Donald Trump, not Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time.”
The Trump’s tepid reaction not only drew swift condemnation from Democrats and civil rights activists, but even from leaders within his own party.
“Mr. President, we must call evil by its name,” Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner (R) said in a tweet. “These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism.”
Gardner, who’s considered a rising star in the Republican party, according to Politico, also made an appearance on CNN Sunday, Aug. 13, and spoke out against Trump once more, saying, “This isn’t a time for innuendo or to allow room to be read between the lines. This is a time to lay blame.”
“This president has done an incredible job of naming terrorism around the globe as evil,” he added. “He has said and called it out time and time again. And this president needs to do exactly that today.”
Other Republicans, including Sens. Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Orrin Hatch and Jeff Flake followed suit with their condemnations of Trump and the white nationalist violence.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017
We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 12, 2017
I urge the Department of Justice to immediately investigate and prosecute today's grotesque act of domestic terrorism.
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) August 13, 2017
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 12, 2017
It is not too much to ask to have a President who explicitly condemns nazis.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 12, 2017
“These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House,” Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina (R) said on “Fox News Sunday.” “I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend.
“I think the president can be very clear when he wants to be, and he needs to be clear here.”
During a recent appearance on CNN, journalist and commentator Van Jones rehashed the horrific events that unfolded Saturday and blasted Trump for seemingly blaming “both sides.”
“… An American citizen was assassinated in broad daylight by a Nazi,” Jones said on “State of the Union” Sunday. “A Nazi, who the day before had been marching with torches down American streets saying anti-Jewish, anti-Black stuff. This is not a time to talk about ‘both sides.’ ‘Both sides’ are not using ISIS tactics ― mowing people down with cars ― in the streets of America.”
Meanwhile, self-avowed white nationalists and Neo-Nazis praised the president’s response to the chaos and celebrated the fact that he essentially gave them permission to continue terrorizing those who disagree with them, the Huffington Post reported. Andrew Anglin, founder of Neo-Nazi website The Daily Stormer described Trump’s comments as “good.”
“He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together,” Anglin wrote. “Nothing specific against us. No condemnation at all.
“When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him.”