President Donald Trump finally condemned by name members of the KKK, neo-Nazis, and white supremacists who rallied in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend. But despite finally doing so two days after an anti-white supremacist protester was murdered, Trump’s statement still leaned into “all lives matter” rhetoric he used on Saturday.
It took two days for Trump, who often criticized former President Barack Obama for not saying “radical Islamic terrorism,” to explicitly condemn white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK.
Trump said Monday those who cause violence in the name of racism “including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups,” are “criminals and thugs.” It’s unclear who he was referring to by mentioning “other hate groups,” by many understood it as a veiled reference to anti-fascist groups and groups like Black Lives Matter.
“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable,” Trump added, “Justice will be delivered.”
Many white supremacists cheered Trump’s response to the violence in Charlottesville, while the president faced criticism from both ends of the political spectrum for not mentioning white supremacist groups when he first addressed the violence in Charlottesville, saying there were violent actors “on many sides.”
One woman, 32-year-old Heather Heyer, was killed on Saturday when a car drove into a group of peaceful counter-protesters. Twenty others were injured.
Trump has also hired a number of men with white nationalist ties to work in his administration. Sebastian Gorka, a national security adviser, is reportedly a sworn member of a Nazi-allied group in Hungary, and Steve Bannon, the president’s chief strategist, ran Breitbart, a right-wing website with a “Black Crime” section.
Trump did not take questions following his brief remarks Monday, despite promising Friday that he would hold a major press conference Monday.