US president Donald Trump made a new statement today condemning the attack the killed a counter-protestor at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.
“Racism is evil,” Trump said at the White House. “And those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”
The president’s remarks addressed the deadly attack at the “Unite the Right” rally protesting the removal of a statue of Confederate general Robert E. Lee. Police say Heather Heyer, 32, was killed when James Alex Fields plowed his car through a group of counter-protestors, fatally striking her and injuring dozens of others.
Here the full text of Trump’s statement:
I’m in Washington today to meet with my economic team about trade policy and major tax cuts and reform. We are renegotiating trade deals and making them good for the American worker, and it’s about time. The economy is now strong. The stock market continues to hit record highs, unemployment is at a 16-year low, and businesses are more optimistic than ever before. Companies are moving back to the United States and bringing many thousands of jobs with them. We have already created over one million jobs since I took office.
We will be discussing economic issues in greater detail later this afternoon, but based on the events that took place over the weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, I would like to provide the nation with an update on the ongoing federal response to the horrific attack and violence that was witnessed by everyone. I just met with FBI director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions. The Department of Justice has opened a civil-rights investigation into the deadly car attack that killed one innocent American and wounded 20 others. To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held accountable. Justice will be delivered.
As I said on Saturday, we condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of bigotry, hatred, and violence. It has no place in America. And as I have said many times before, no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws; we all salute the same great flag; and we are all made by the same almighty God. We must love each other, show affection for each other, and unite together in condemnation of hatred, bigotry, and violence. We must discover the bonds of love and loyalty that bring us together as Americans. Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator, we are equal under the law, and we are equal under our constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.
Two days ago, a young American woman, Heather Heyer, was tragically killed. Her death fills us with grief and we send her family our thoughts, our prayers, and our love. We also mourn the two Virginia state troopers who died in service to their community, their commonwealth, and their country. Troopers H. Jay Cullen and Berke Bates exemplify the very best of America, and our hearts go out to their families, their friends, and every member of American law enforcement. These three fallen Americans embody the goodness and decency of our nation. In times such as these, America has always shown its true character, responding to hate with love, division with unity, and violence with an unwavering resolve for justice. As a candidate, I promised to restore law and order to our country, and our federal law-enforcement agencies are following through on that pledge. We will spare no resource in fighting so that every American child can grow up free from violence and fear. We will defend and protect the sacred rights of all Americans, and we will work together so that every citizen in this blessed land is free to follow their dreams in their hearts and to express the love and joy in their souls.
Thank you. God bless you, and God bless America.
The president’s statement comes after an initially tepid response Saturday, when he condemned the “egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides.” Both Democrats and Republicans criticized Trump’s original statement, deeming it a moral failure by not calling out white supremacists and neo-Nazis as hate groups and for not using the term “domestic terrorism” to describe the attack. His initial statement did not mention the car attack at all or the fact that a life had been lost. When reporters originally asked Trump if he condemned the hate groups responsible for the attack, he refused to answer the question and walked away from the podium.
Later in the day, Trump tweeted condolences to the woman who was killed and his “best regards” to those injured.
Criticism of Trump’s initial response mounted over the weekend, and resulted in Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier resigning from the president’s American Manufacturing Council. It took Trump a little less than an hour to condemn Frazier:
Watch the full video of Trump’s speech today on the Charlottesville attack: