President Trump condemned “hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides” in addressing the riots in Charlottesville on Saturday, when hundreds of white nationalists, neo-Nazis and Ku Klux Klan members who planned to stage a rally clashed with counterprotesters.
“The hate and division must stop. And must stop right now,” Trump said, reading a prepared statement at his resort in Bedminster, N.J. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides. On many sides.”
He did not say which “sides” he was referring to, or whose hatred and bigotry he was condemning. He did not call out white nationalists or white supremacists, even after a car plowed into counterprotesters, killing one and injuring 19.
Trump's comments, while praised by the well-known neo-Nazi Daily Stormer website, were met with widespread rebuke, even from members of his own party. Some were quick to point out that when triggered, Trump usually reacts swiftly and specifically, typically on Twitter. But not Saturday, when one of the sides that perpetrated violence did so while invoking his name, and when he didn't tweet until several hours into the riot.
By Sunday morning, Trump's eldest daughter, Ivanka, tweeted a reaction with a level of specificity that was absent in her father's statement:
1:2 There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis.
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) August 13, 2017
Several Republican lawmakers have either called out Trump or issued statements singling out white nationalists and white supremacists.
Here are some of them:
Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism. https://t.co/PaPNiPPAoW
— Cory Gardner (@SenCoryGardner) August 12, 2017
We should call evil by its name. My brother didn't give his life fighting Hitler for Nazi ideas to go unchallenged here at home. -OGH
— Senator Hatch Office (@senorrinhatch) August 12, 2017
— Marco Rubio (@marcorubio) August 12, 2017
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) August 12, 2017
The tragedy in Charlottesville this afternoon was domestic terrorism. We must all condemn hatred and white nationalism.
— Rob Portman (@senrobportman) August 12, 2017
What " WhiteNatjonalist" are doing in Charlottesville is homegrown terrorism that can't be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does
— ChuckGrassley (@ChuckGrassley) August 12, 2017
Our hearts are with today's victims. White supremacy is a scourge. This hate and its terrorism must be confronted and defeated.
— Paul Ryan (@SpeakerRyan) August 12, 2017
— Jeff Flake (@JeffFlake) August 12, 2017
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) issued a statement Saturday night urging the Justice Department to conduct an investigation into the crash that killed a 32-year-old woman and injured 19. Arrested for second-degree murder and other charges was 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., of Ohio. A photograph shows Fields standing among members of Vanguard America, a group associated with the white supremacy movement, although the organization has denied that he's a member.
Other Republicans, including New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a Trump supporter, and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney, also have made similar statements:
We reject the racism and violence of white nationalists like the ones acting out in Charlottesville. Everyone in leadership must speak out.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) August 12, 2017
Racial prejudice, then hate, then repugnant speech, then a repulsive rally, then murder; not supremacy, barbarism.
— Mitt Romney (@MittRomney) August 13, 2017
Meanwhile, the Daily Stormer praised Trump for not being specific in his condemnation and interpreted his comments as a rebuke of the violence from counterprotesters.
“Trump's comments were good. He didn't attack us … Nothing specific against us. He said that we need to study why people are so angry, and implied that there was hate … on both sides! So he implied the antifa are haters,” the Daily Stormer wrote, using a truncated term for “anti-fascist” to describe violent leftist protesters.
Richard Spencer, who helped organize the protest, echoed that interpretation:
Did Trump just denounce antifa? https://t.co/jOgiw4pPzK
— Richard ☝Spencer (@RichardBSpencer) August 12, 2017
The website also noted that Trump refused to answer when a reporter asked about white nationalists who support him.
“No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room,” the Daily Stormer wrote. “Really, really good.”
Others, including Vice President Pence, came to Trump's defense:
— Vice President Pence (@VP) August 12, 2017
Yes it was BOTH SIDES TODAY! yes trump was right to say BOTH SIDES! pic.twitter.com/IVzwLUI08O
— Ben Ferguson (@benfergusonshow) August 12, 2017