President Donald Trump, under mounting public pressure, candidly denounced the actions of the alt-right groups responsible for a white power protest held in Charlottsville, VA. The protest turned violent Saturday after a white supremacist drove his car through a crowd of counter-protesters.
“Racism is evil. And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the K.K.K., neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.” Trump said in a statement from the White House Monday.
Trump’s statement came more than 48 hours after his initial response, which was met with universal criticism from both Democrats and Republicans. From his golf club in New Jersey, Trump appeared before the press stating:
“We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. It has no place in America. What is vital now is the swift restoration of law and order.”
Criticism came specifically from Trump’s refusal to identity the alt-right groups specifically. Senator Orrin Hatch (R-UT) tweeted shortly after the incident Saturday saying
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
Other Senators, including Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Marco Rubio (R-FL), who challenged Trump for the GOP nomination in last years election, called out Trump to specifically denounce white supremacy groups.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier, one of the few black leaders of a Fortune 500 company, announced Monday he would be stepping down from Trump’s economic advisory council in response to Trumps comments regarding Charlottesville. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich along with Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank, who once referred to the President as a “real asset” to the United States, followed Frazier in stepping down from Trump’s advisory council.
Despite the eventual specific condemnation of white supremacist groups, it may have been too little too late.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) ripped into Trump Monday for his delay, and called upon him to fire Chief Strategist Steve Bannon, former chief-editor of far right wing website Breitbart News, stating he’s an “an alt-right white supremacist sympathizer.”
Video’s and images from the violence in Charlottesville quickly spread across the nation Saturday night. The event has proved to be dividing in its purpose and outcome.
Virginia police have arrested Alex Fields, the man who drove his Dodge Challenger into the group of counter-protesters, and charged him with second-degree murder in the death of Heather Heyer who perished after she was crushed by Fields’ vehicle.
Trump’s approval rating dropped to a new low of 34% Tuesday, a record for a sitting president.