White House clarifies: We condemn all violence

White House clarifies: We condemn all violence
© Getty

On Sunday, the White House was forced to clarify that President TrumpDonald John TrumpConservatives express concern over House GOP immigration bill Poll: McSally holds 14-point lead in Arizona GOP Senate primary Trump defends Nielsen amid criticism over family separations MORE "condemns all forms of violence, bigotry and hatred" in a statement following up on the Saturday protests in Charlottesville, Va.

"Of course" the president condemns violence by "white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups," a White House spokesperson said in a statement. 

Trump the previous day declined to name the groups behind the rally, instead blaming "hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides."

"The president said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred," the White House clarified on Sunday. "He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together."

ADVERTISEMENT

The official statement comes after lawmakers on both sides of the aisle blamed Trump for failing to take a strong enough stand in a statement that followed a day of violence that left multiple people injured and three dead — one due to a car mowing down protesters and two others in a helicopter crash.

Sen. Cory GardnerCory Scott Gardner13 GOP senators ask administration to pause separation of immigrant families Sessions floats federal law that would protect states that decriminalize marijuana RNC mum on whether it will support Trump-backed Corey Stewart MORE (R-Co.) was one of the first senators to criticize Trump for his remarks, urging him to "call evil by its name."

Various other Republican senators also criticized Trump, including Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck GrassleyCharles (Chuck) Ernest GrassleyOn The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Markets roiled by Trump's new tariff threat | Trump lashes out at Canada over trade | Warren looks to block Trump pick for consumer agency The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by PhRMA — Defiant Trump meets with House GOP amid border blowback Republican senator calls for face-to-face with EPA’s Pruitt MORE (R-Iowa), second ranking Senate Republican Sen. Orrin HatchOrrin Grant HatchGOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border Overnight Defense: States pull National Guard troops over family separation policy | Senators question pick for Afghan commander | US leaves UN Human Rights Council Senate GOP tries to defuse Trump border crisis MORE (R-Utah) and Sen. Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioDem scores upset over Republican in Florida county commissioner race GOP senators introduce bill to prevent family separations at border McCain, Coons: Trump should withdraw controversial refugee nominee MORE (R-Fla.).

Democrats also took aim at the president's comments.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) gave the president advice on how to confront white supremacy, while former Vice President Biden publicly took issue with Trump's claim that "many sides" were responsible for the violence.

Trump's comments on the violent clashes in Charlottesville took the spotlight Sunday despite ongoing high tension with North Korea.

Much of the past week had been dominated by news of Trump's intensifying rhetoric toward North Korea.

But on Sunday, officials instead focused on the president's responses to the situation in Charlottesville.

Top White House aides on Sunday defended the president. National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said he thinks Trump has been "very clear" in his response, adding that the county can't "tolerate this kind of bigotry."

But other officials and lawmakers criticized Trump for not going farther in his statement condemning the violence, with former White House communications director Anthony Scaramucci saying Trump needed to be "harsher as it related to the white supremacists."

Trump first condemned the violence in Charlottesville via Twitter on Saturday, and called for national unity.

"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides — on many sides," Trump later said at a press conference from his New Jersey golf course Saturday.

"It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaAnother chance to seek the return of fiscal sanity to the halls of Congress Colombia’s new leader has a tough road ahead, and Obama holdovers aren't helping An alternative to Trump's family separation policy MORE. This has been going on for a long, long time," he continued, before highlighting his administration's accomplishments. 

Trump frequently lambasted former President Barack Obama for not naming names following attacks, particularly for not using the phrase "radical Islamic terror." 

White nationalist groups had gathered in the Charlottesville on Saturday to protest the removal of a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee.

Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe (D) declared a state of emergency following the violent outbreak.

The Department of Justice has opened a civil rights investigation into the crash. 

- Rebecca Savransky contributed to this report which was last updated at 3:33 p.m.