President Donald Trump was forced to issue a stronger statement on Sunday that went beyond his bland comments in which he failed to name the groups who clashed Saturday in Charlottesville, Virginia, and instead blamed “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — many sides” after being heavily criticized by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle, The Hill reports.
What Trump Didn’t Say Is What Upset People
In a statement, a White House spokesperson said “Of course” the president condemns violence by “white supremacists, KKK, Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups.”
And the White House also said:
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Legislators from both parties criticized Trump for failing to take a strong stand in the initial statement he released following Saturday’s tragic violence that killed three people and left scores of others injured. A car mowed down a crowd of counter-protesters, killing one person and two Virginia police officers were killed when their helicopter crashed.
Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.) was one of the first of several lawmakers to denounce Trump for his earlier remarks, calling for him to “call evil by its name.”
Mr. President – we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
A number of other Republicans also had a few things to tell Trump. Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), second-ranking Senate Republican Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) also criticized Trump.
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017
And numerous Democrats jumped in as well, including Sen. Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii) and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.).
It is not too much to ask to have a President who explicitly condemns nazis.
— Brian Schatz (@brianschatz) August 12, 2017
— Nancy Pelosi (@NancyPelosi) August 12, 2017
And former Vice President Joe Biden publicly denounced Trump for claiming that “many sides” were to blame.
There is only one side. #charlottesville
— Joe Biden (@JoeBiden) August 12, 2017
Trump’s remarks on this tragic situation have also done one other thing: They have diverted our attention away from the situation with North Korea, after a solid week of rather frightening rhetoric from the president indirectly pointed at Kim Jong Un.
Some White House aides came to Trump’s defense, with National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster saying he thinks Trump was “very clear” in his response. He added that the U.S. can’t “tolerate this kind of bigotry.”
But the president’s first statement on the deadly protest in Charlottesville is indefensible. He sounded like he was reading off of index cards. His speech was bland, his speech patterns stumbling. The bipartisan criticism is well-deserved. My guess is that stumbling will continue for however long he is president.
Featured image courtesy of Al Jazeera English