Faced with bipartisan blowback over President Donald Trump’s initial broad-based condemnation of the deadly chaos in Charlottesville, Virginia, the White House tried to stem the criticism Sunday.
A White House statement said “of course” the president’s condemnation included white supremacists and other hate groups, Newsday’s Emily Ngo and Scott Eidler report.
“The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred,” the representative said. “Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK, neo-Nazi and all extremist groups. He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together.”
Trump initially called out the violence on “many sides — on many sides,” as he spoke from his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Saturday.
The Washington Post reported that neo-Nazi and white nationalist groups applauded Trump’s remarks.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) suggested on “Fox News Sunday” that Trump may be encouraging right-wing hate groups.
“These groups seem to believe they have a friend in Donald Trump in the White House ... and I would urge the president to dissuade these groups that he’s their friend,” Graham added.
Adviser: Don’t dignify groups
White House homeland security adviser Tom Bossert Sunday said Trump didn’t want to “dignify” the groups by naming them.
“The president not only condemned the violence and stood up at a time and a moment when calm was necessary and didn’t dignify the names of these groups of people, but rather addressed the fundamental issue,” Bossert told CNN’s Jake Tapper.
Later in the day on Twitter, Tapper noted that the president held an entire event devoted to the violent gang MS-13 on Long Island.
Largest white nationalist rally?
The Associated Press reports that Saturday’s Unite the Right rally was “believed to be the largest group of white nationalists to come together in a decade.” The protest was spurred by a Charlottesville City Council decision to remove a statute of Confederate Army Gen. Robert E. Lee, and some at the rally cited Trump’s election victory as validation of their beliefs. Members of alt-right groups clashed with counterprotesters.
Sessions opens federal probe
Attorney General Jeff Sessions, meanwhile, announced late Saturday that federal authorities will pursue a civil rights investigation into the crash in Charlottesville on Saturday, in which police say James Alex Fields Jr. deliberately rammed his car into a crowd of counterprotesters. Heather Heyer, 32, was killed and 19 others were injured.
Fields told his mother he was going to a rally on Saturday, but she said that she thought the event “had something to do with Trump,” adding, “Trump’s not a supremacist.”
Trump to NYC Monday
Mayor Bill de Blasio said the president is expected to visit New York City Monday, reports Newsday’s Laura Figueroa. Trump was originally scheduled to arrive Sunday evening. He plans to stay at Trump Tower for the first time since taking office.
The Mooch on the loose
Long Island’s own Anthony Scaramucci is back in the spotlight, reports Emily Ngo.
In his first interview since his July 31 dismissal, Scaramucci told ABC News’ “This Week” that Trump “knows what he’s going to do with Steve Bannon.”
“He has to move away from that sort of Bannon-bart nonsense,” the former financier from Manhasset added, playing on Bannon’s previous position at the helm of the right-wing Breitbart News website.
Scaramucci said Trump’s statement on the Charlottesville violence should have been more pointed.
“I think he needed to be much harsher as it related to the white supremacists,” Scaramucci said.
“The Mooch,” as he called himself in an expletive-laced phone call with a New Yorker writer shortly before he was fired, is scheduled to appear Monday night on CBS’ “The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.”
What else is happening
- Local activists, many galvanized since Trump’s election, gathered on Long Island Sunday to support the Charlottesville demonstrators.
- Ivanka Trump tweeted Sunday morning, “There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-Nazis.”
- Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo started a petition urging Trump to call Charlottesville a “terror attack by white supremacists.”
- Special counsel Robert Mueller seeks to interview current and former White House staff in his probe.