President Donald Trump denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazis by name Monday and announced that the Justice Department has launched a civil rights investigation into the killing of a counterprotester at a white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend as he sought to tamp down mounting criticism of his initial response to the violence.
“Anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held accountable,” Trump said in brief remarks to reporters in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, where he returned after a week of vacation in Bedminster, N.J. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence. It has no place in America.”
Trump added: “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 all that we hold dear as a nation.”
The statement came two days after he failed to specifically condemn the white supremacist rally after a woman was killed and as many as 19 wounded by a driver who reportedly espoused racist and pro-Nazi sentiments and had taken part in the “Unite the Right” march in Charlottesville.
On Saturday, Trump condemned “the egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” sparking sharp criticism from Democrats, civil rights proponents and some Republicans for failing to single out and condemn the white supremacists who sparked the violence.
On Monday, Kenneth C. Frazier, CEO of Merck, said in a tweet that he was resigning from Trump’s American Manufacturing Council, saying he was doing so “as a matter of personal conscience” and that “America’s leaders must honor our fundamental values by clearly rejecting expressions of hatred, bigotry and group supremacy, which run counter to the American ideal that all people are created equal.”
(c) 2017, The Washington Post · David Nakamura