White House defends Trump’s reaction to Charlottesville

BEDMINSTER, N.J. — The White House on Sunday defended President Trump’s reaction to the events that rattled Charlottesville, Virginia the previous day. A day of violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters ended with a car slamming into the counter-protesters, killing one woman and leaving 19 others injured. 

“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred, and of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-nazi, and all extremists groups. he called for national unity and bringing all americans together,” a White House spokesman said in a statement. 

The White House would not attach a staffer’s name to the statement.

The president has drawn criticism from Republicans and Democrats for not explicitly denouncing white supremacists in the aftermath of the violent clashes in Virginia, with lawmakers saying he needs to take a public stand against groups that espouse racism and hate.

On CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday, Leon Panetta, who previously served as White House chief of staff, defense secretary and CIA director, said the president’s failure to call out the groups by name sends the wrong message

“His failure to address what really happened in Charlottesville, and the role of white supremacists, I think also sends a message that he is not recognizing the real causes of crises even within our own country,” Panetta said. 

Mr. Trump, on a working vacation at his New Jersey golf club, addressed the nation Saturday soon after a grey Dodge plowed into a group of anti-racist counter-protesters in Charlottesville, a college town where neo-Nazis and white nationalists had assembled to march. 

The president did not single out any groups in his remarks, instead accusing “many sides” of violence.

Mr. Trump condemned, “in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides.” He added: “It’s been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack Obama. It’s been going on for a long, long time.”

“Hate and the division must stop, and must stop right now,” he said. “We have to come together as Americans with love for our nation and… true affection for each other.”  

The president did not answer questions from reporters about whether he rejected the support of white nationalists or whether he believed the car crash was an example of domestic terrorism. Aides who appeared on the Sunday news…

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