Trump calls white supremacists ‘repugnant’ while addressing weekend violence

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Trump calls white supremacists 'repugnant' while addressing weekend violence

Two different days, two different attempts by U.S. President Donald Trump to address the race-fueled violence in Virginia. The White House is looking to contain the backlash from Trump’s initial remarks blaming “many sides” for the deadly attack in Charlottesville.

CGTN’s Toby Muse reports.

Follow Toby Muse on Twitter @tobymuse

After days of criticism, President Donald Trump forcefully condemned white supremacists, following a death at a far-right gathering in the city of Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend.

 “Racism is evil, and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs,” the president said at the White House. “Including KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

It’s a rare reversal for a president who prides himself on never backing down. Trump has been criticized since his remarks Saturday, when he placed the blame for violence on both white supremacist marchers and counter-protestors. In the clashes, a suspected member of the far-right gathering drove his car in to a crowd of counter-protestors, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.

Video showed white supremacists chanting racist slogans, and a silver Dodge Charger slamming into pedestrians.

Republicans and Democrats condemned the rally and the president’s tepid response.

“This isn’t a time for innuendo or read between the lines. This is a time to lay blame on bigotry and white supremacists and hatred,” Republican Sen. Cory Gardner said.

Trump remained silent over the weekend, but in a statement Monday, the president said the words many had wanted him to say from the beginning.

 “To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” the president said.

Trump’s delay in condemning the white supremacists led Ken Frazier, the CEO of Merck Pharma, to resign from the president’s manufacturing council. Less than an hour later, Trump responded on Twitter, tweeting: “Now that Ken Frazier has resigned – he will have more time to lower RIPOFF DRUG PRICES.”

The Department of Justice has announced a civil rights investigation into the Charlottesville violence, including the links between far-right groups and the driver of the car that killed Heyer.

The suspect, James Alex Fields, who travelled from Ohio to join the gathering in Virginia, was denied bail in his first court appearance Monday.

He is set to return to court on August 25 to face charges of second-degree murder and malicious wounding. 

An internet page set up to raise donations for Heather Heyer’s funeral , and for her family, has received more than $225,000 so far.

Is President Trump doing enough to confront racism? Saladin Ambar discusses

U.S. President Donald Trump is ramping up his criticism of hate groups, more forcefully denouncing the “evil racism” that led to deadly weekend violence in Virginia. But are the president’s words enough? Saladin Ambar, associate professor of political science at Rutgers University, joins CGTN’s Asieh Namdar to discuss.