Donald Trump’s flaccid response to yesterday’s white nationalist rally in Virginia that left one counter-protester dead and 19 others injured, was met with criticism from some of his Republican colleagues in the US senate.
The president was silent at his New Jersey golf club for hours as neo-Nazis took to the streets chanting “Heil Trump.” In the early evening, Trump called a press conference, blaming the violence on “many sides” and neglecting to condemn or mention the hateful ideologies that the rally espoused.
After initially failing to mention the fatal car attack that claimed the life of 32-year-old counter-protester Heather Hayer, Trump tweeted condolences to the woman’s family and “best regards” to those critically injured.
A few Republican politicians publicly distanced themselves from the US president’s response to the events. Senator Marco Rubio tweeted that Trump should describe the events in Charlottesville “for what they are, a terror attack by white supremacists.” Senator Cory Gardner made a similar statement, tweeting that Trump must “call evil by its name.”
The strongest rebuke of all, though, came from an 83-year-old lawmaker whose brother was killed fighting Nazis in World War II:
Hatch, the longest-serving Republican senator in US history, tweeted his statement shortly after Trump’s speech ended. According to his profile, tweets signed “-OGH” are written by the senator himself, and not from his staff.
Hatch’s brother, a US Army Air Forces turret gunner, was shot down over Austria in 1945. He was part of the 451st Bombardment Group, a unit tasked with bombing Nazi assets in Germany, Austria, Poland, and Italy. Hatch was only 8-years-old when his brother was killed.
In May of last year, Hatch endorsed Trump for the US presidency. But in recent months, the longtime senator has been more critical of the president. After Trump tweeted his intention to ban transgender people from the military, Hatch told USA Today that “transgender people are people, and deserve the best we can do for them.”
One entity that has not criticized the president for his reaction to the events in Charlottesville is the Daily Stormer, an American neo-Nazi website. “Trump comments were good,” a post on the site said. “He didn’t attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us.”
“God bless him,” it added. “No condemnation at all.”