President Donald Trump caused an uproar among certain circles on Saturday for not explicitly condemning white supremacists in the wake of the deadly Charlottesville protests, but the White House has released a statement emphasizing that Trump’s disapproval of the group should have been clear from the context of his remarks.
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” a White House spokesperson said from Trump’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
“Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together,” the spokesperson continued.
Clashes between far-right protesters opposing the removal of a Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee Statue and leftist counter-protesters reached a crisis point when a car – allegedly driven by a white supremacist – plowed into a thick crowd, leaving one woman dead and at least nineteen others injured. Two state troopers who were providing aerial surveillance also perished when their helicopter crashed.
The suspect who drove the car has been identified as 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., an Ohio man who has been described as a neo-Nazi who became obsessed with the cause while he was in high school.
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides,” Trump said on Saturday, calling for an investigation into the incident. Attorney General Jeff Sessions also opened a civil rights investigation into the “Unite the Right” rally that night.
However, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle tore into Trump for not directly targeting white supremacists for rebuke.
“[Trump must] speak out against the poisonous resurgence of white supremacy,” opined Rep. Adam Schiff (D-CA). “There are not ‘many sides’ here, just right and wrong.”