Trump Condemns Violence 'on Many Sides' at White Nationalist Rally - NECN
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Trump Condemns Violence 'on Many Sides' at White Nationalist Rally

Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced late Saturday the launch of a federal civil rights investigation into the incident

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    Footage shows a vehicle appear to drive into a group of counter-protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia. Clashes between white nationalists and counter protesters had been ongoing on Aug. 12.

    (Published Saturday, Aug. 12, 2017)

    After a vehicle plowed into a crowd of counter-protesters at a white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, Saturday, President Donald Trump condemned "this egregious display of bigotry, hatred and violence on many sides."

    Before the vehicle drove into the crowd, killing one person, clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters led the governor to declare a state of emergency and police to order people to disperse.

    Officials said one 32-year-old woman was dead and dozens injured after the incident involving the car.

    A police helicopter crash that killed the pilot and a passenger later in the afternoon outside Charlottesville also was linked to the rally, though officials did not elaborate on how the crash was connected.

    "We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of bigotry, hatred and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said. "It's been going on for a long time in our country."

    Trump spoke at a bill signing for legislation that funds veterans health care. The president did not answer shouted questions about white nationalists marching in his name or whether a car plowing into people could be called terrorism.

    In his remarks, Trump also called for "the swift restoration of law and order" and for Americans to set aside their differences.

    "We want to study it and we want to see what we're doing wrong as a country where things like this can happen," Trump said.

    His reference to "many sides" being behind hatred and violence quickly drew criticism from other political figures. 

    "On 'many sides?' This tragedy was fomented by white supremacists & neo-Nazis. What signal did the @POTUS just send?" tweeted David Axelrod, an adviser to former President Barack Obama.

    On Twitter Sunday, Trump's daughter, Ivanka Trump, condemned "white supremacy" in explicit terms. 

    "There should be no place in society for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis," she wrote. "We must all come together as Americans -- and be one country UNITED."

    In a statement, the Congressional Black Caucus said "President Trump has encouraged and emboldened the type of racism and violence we saw today in Charlottesville, Va. This is a president after all who has two white supremacists working for him in the White House Steve Bannon and Stephen Miller."

    The statement added that the caucus's 49 members therefore "weren't surprised President Trump couldn't bring himself to say the words 'white supremacy, white supremacists,' and domestic terrorism when he addressed the nation this afternoon, and that he instead chose to use racially coded dog whistles like law and order and false equivalencies like many sides."

    "Where is Attorney General Sessions?" the caucus inquired.

    Late Saturday, the Department of Justice announced the opening of a federal civil rights investigation into the deadly car attack. Attorney General Jeff Sessions said that the FBI's Richmond field office and Rick Mountcastle, the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Virginia, will lead the investigation.

    "The violence and deaths in Charlottesville strike at the heart of American law and justice," Sessions said in a statement. "When such actions arise from racial bigotry and hatred, they betray our core values and cannot be tolerated."

    Earlier, Hillary Clinton tweeted that her "heart is in Charlottesville" and criticized the lack of a quick, clear rebuke from American leaders as disgraceful, though she did not mention Trump by name. 

    "Every minute we allow this to persist through tacit encouragement or inaction is a disgrace, & corrosive to our values," she tweeted. "Now is the time for leaders to be strong in their words & deliberate in their actions."

    Former Vice President Joe Biden also weighed in, saying on Twitter, "No. Not in America. We must be stronger, more determined and more united than ever. Racism and hate have no place here."

    Images: Violence Erupts at White Nationalist Rally in Va.Images: Violence Erupts at White Nationalist Rally in Va.

    Trump and other politicians addressed the situation on Twitter as it unfolded.

    "We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!" Trump said before the car sped into the crowd and speaking at the bill signing.

    He followed that tweet with another, which partially addressed the incident: "Am in Bedminster for meetings & press conference on V.A. & all that we have done, and are doing, to make it better-but Charlottesville sad!"

    Also before the car plowed into the crowd, House Speaker Paul Ryan tweeted, "The views fueling the spectacle in Charlottesville are repugnant. Let it only serve to unite Americans against this kind of vile bigotry."

    Numerous people who said they witnessed the car crash said it appeared the vehicle intentionally hit the crowd. A video posted online showed the car going into reverse after hitting the group of people. 

    An Associated Press reporter saw at least one person on the ground receiving medical treatment immediately afterward the incident, which occurred approximately two hours after violent clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters injured at least eight people, according to emergency medical personnel. 

    Right-wing blogger Jason Kessler had called for what he termed a "pro-white" rally to protest the city of Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate General Robert E. Lee from a downtown park.

    Former Ku Klux Klan leader David Duke tweeted in reply to Trump's initial condemnation of violence that he should remember that the support of white voters put him in the White House: "I would recommend you take a good look in the mirror & remember it was White Americans who put you in the presidency, not radical leftists."

    Later, the Daily Stormer — a white supremacist website promoting the Charlottesville demonstration as part of its Summer of Hate edition — praised Trump for his response to the violence. "Trump comments were good. He didn't attack us. He just said the nation should come together. Nothing specific against us. ... No condemnation at all. When asked to condemn, he just walked out of the room. Really, really good. God bless him."

    Sen. Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., took to Twitter after the car incident to condemn "hate and bigotry": "The #WhiteSupremacy in #Charlottesville does not reflect the values of the America I know. Hate and bigotry have no place in this country."

    Sen. Cory Gardner, R-Co., fired back at Trump's refusal to respond to reporters' questions whether the incident can be called terrorism. "Mr. President - we must call evil by its name. These were white supremacists and this was domestic terrorism," he said on Twitter.

    GOP Sen. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, also echoed his colleague's sentiment and said that the incident is "homegrown terrorism that can't be tolerated anymore that what Any extremist does." 

    Also calling for the president to describe the event as a terror attack, Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., said it is "very important for the nation to hear @POTUS" say it.

    “White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special.

    "White supremacists and neo-Nazis are, by definition, opposed to American patriotism and the ideals that define us as a people and make our nation special," Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said in a statement.

    Former Vice President Al Gore commented on the violence at Net Roots Nation Conference in Atlanta, Georgia, saying that the president needs to "give more thought to what it means to have a resurgence of the KKK and Nazi movement marching and creating this kind of hatefulness."