'Racism Is Evil': Bowing to Pressure, Trump Denounces Hate Groups by Name - NBC 10 Philadelphia
President Donald Trump

President Donald Trump

The latest news on President Donald Trump's first year as president

'Racism Is Evil': Bowing to Pressure, Trump Denounces Hate Groups by Name

Trump noted the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation

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    NEWSLETTERS

    Two days after violent protests in Charlottesville, Virginia, President Donald Trump condemned white supremacists and other hate groups for their actions on Saturday, August 12. Trump’s initial statement on that day did not mention the hate groups, citing “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” That statement drew bipartisan criticism. (Published Monday, Aug. 14, 2017)

    Bowing to pressure from right and left, President Donald Trump condemned white supremacist groups by name on Monday, declaring "racism is evil" after two days of public equivocation and internal White House debate over the deadly race-fueled clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    In a hastily arranged statement at the White House, Trump branded members of the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacists who take part in violence as "criminals and thugs."

    The groups are "repugnant to everything that we hold dear as Americans," he said.

    In his initial remarks on the violence Saturday, Trump did not single out the groups and instead bemoaned violence on "many sides." Those remarks prompted stern criticism from fellow Republicans as well as Democrats, who urged him to seize the moral authority of his office to condemn hate groups.

    Trump Responds to Violence in Charlottesville

    [NATL] Trump Responds to Violence in Charlottesville

    President Donald Trump responded to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    Trump's softer statement on Saturday had come as graphic images of a car plowing into a crowd in Charlottesville were playing continually on television. White nationalists had assembled in the city to protest plans to take down a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee, and counter-protesters gathered in opposition. Fights broke out, and then a man drove into the opponents of the white supremacists. One woman was killed and many more badly hurt. Twenty-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of Ohio is charged with second-degree murder and other counts.

    Loath to appear to be admitting a mistake, Trump was reluctant to adjust his remarks.

    The president had indicated to advisers before his initial statement Saturday that he wanted to stress a need for law and order, which he did. He later expressed anger to those close to him about what he perceived as the media's unfair assessment of his remarks, believing he had effectively denounced all forms of bigotry, according to outside advisers and White House officials.

    Several of Trump's senior advisers, including new chief of staff John Kelly, had urged him to make a more specific condemnation, warning that the negative story would not go away and that the rising tide of criticism from fellow Republicans on Capitol Hill could endanger his legislative agenda, according to two White House officials.

    The outside advisers and officials demanded anonymity to discuss private conversations.

    Aides were dispatched to Sunday talk shows but struggled to explain the president's position. A stronger statement was released — but attributed only to an unnamed spokesperson.

    Pence, Sessions Respond to Charlottesville Violence

    [NATL] Pence, Sessions Respond to Charlottesville Violence

    Vice President Mike Pence said there is no tolerance for “white supremacists, neo-Nazis or the KKK,” following a white nationalist rally Saturday in Virginia that erupted in violence and left three people dead and multiple injured.

    (Published Monday, Aug. 14, 2017)

    Tougher condemnations began Sunday night with Vice President Mike Pence, traveling in South America, declaring that "these dangerous fringe groups have no place in American public life."

    On Monday, Trump had planned to interrupt his 17-day working vacation at his New Jersey golf club to travel to Washington for an announcement he hoped would showcase some tough talk on China's trade practices.

    But by the time he arrived at midmorning, it was clear all other messages would be drowned out until he said more about Charlottesville.

    Trump returned to a White House undergoing a major renovation. With the Oval Office unavailable, he worked from the Treaty Room as aides drafted his remarks.

    Reading from a teleprompter, he made a point of beginning with an unrelated plug for the strength of the economy under his leadership. Then, taking pains to insist "as I said on Saturday," Trump denounced the hate groups and called for unity.

    "We must love each other, show affection for each other and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry and violence," he said.

    Vehicle Drives Into Counter-Protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia

    [NATL] Vehicle Drives Into Counter-Protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia

    Footage shows a vehicle appear to drive into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters had been ongoing on Aug. 12.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    Trump for the first time mentioned Heather Heyer by name as he paid tribute to the woman killed by the car.

    At the trade event later in the day, he was asked why it took two days for him to offer an explicit denunciation of the hate groups.

    "They have been condemned," Trump responded before offering a fresh criticism of some media as "fake news."

    He followed with a tweet declaring "the #fakenews will never be satisfied."

    Trump noted the Justice Department has opened a civil rights investigation.

    His attorney general, Jeff Sessions, said earlier Monday on ABC's "Good Morning America," ''You can be sure we will charge and advance the investigation toward the most serious charges that can be brought, because this is an unequivocally unacceptable and evil attack that cannot be accepted in America."

    Residents Offer Prayers for Healing in Charlottesville

    [NATL-DC] Residents Offer Prayers for Healing in Charlottesville

    Church members and residents are grieving and hoping for unity the day after a driver plowed into a group of protesters, killing a woman and injuring many others. News4's Derrick Ward reports from Charlottesville, Virginia.

    (Published Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017)

    In the hours after the incident on Saturday, Trump addressed the violence in broad strokes, saying he condemned "in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides."

    That was met with swift bipartisan criticism. There were far fewer responses to Trump's statement Monday, though Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, a frequent Trump critic, tweeted "Well done Mr. President."

    Trump's initial comments had drawn praise from the neo-Nazi website Daily Stormer, which wrote: "Trump comments were good. He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. ... No condemnation at all."

    Though the Daily Stormer did not criticize Trump's new statement, the Occidental Dissent, a white nationalist website, published a message saying whites had been "deserted by their president."

    Trump, as a presidential candidate, frequently came under scrutiny for being slow to offer condemnation of white supremacists. His strongest denunciations of the movement have not come only when asked, and he occasionally trafficked in retweets of racist social media posts during his campaign. His chief strategist, Steve Bannon, once declared that his former news site, Breitbart, was "the platform for the alt-right."

    Only late in last year's campaign did Trump move away from his long-held questioning that Barack Obama was born in the United States, and even then he falsely blamed the origins of "birtherism" on Hillary Clinton.

    Solemn Mood in Charlottesville After Violence

    [NATL-DC] Solemn Mood in Charlottesville After Violence

    A makeshift memorial was assembled near the place where a car plowed into a crowd of people, killing one woman. News4's Derrick Ward spoke with a Charlottesville resident who says she worries about how the violence and hatred will affect her children.

    (Published Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017)

    Early Monday, the CEO of the nation's third largest pharmaceutical company said he was resigning from the President's American Manufacturing Council, citing "a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism."

    Trump lashed back at Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier on Twitter, saying Frazier "will have more time to LOWER RIPOFF DRUG PRICES!"

    Also Monday, Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank also stepped down from the council, saying on Twitter he would "focus on inspiring & uniting through power of sport."

    Later, Intel CEO Brain Krzanich announced he was also leaving the council, NBC News reported.

    "I resigned to call attention to the serious harm our divided political climate is causing to critical issues, including the serious need to address the decline of American manufacturing," Krzanich wrote on an Intel blog. "Politics and political agendas have sidelined the important mission of rebuilding America’s manufacturing base."

    CORRECTION (August 15, 2017, 7:10 a.m. ET): An earlier version of this story misidentified Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank's first name.

    Virginia Rally Organizer's News Conference Cut Short

    [NATL] Virginia Rally Organizer's News Conference Cut Short

    The man who organized a rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, that sparked violent clashes between white supremacist groups and counter-protesters held a news conference the day after the deadly event, but a crowd of several hundred booed him and forced him away from the lectern.

    (Published Sunday, Aug. 13, 2017)