Trump adviser: White House 'must do better' in condemning hate

Trump adviser: White House 'must do better' in condemning hate
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A top adviser to President Trump in a Friday interview says the White House "must do better" in condemning hate following equivocating responses to the violence in Charlottesville, Va., where white supremacists marched two weeks ago.

The remarks from Gary Cohn, the director of the White House National Economic Council, suggest lingering dissatisfaction among Trump's team over how the president responded to the violence, which included the death of one woman after a car was driven into a crowd of people protesting white supremacism.

"This administration can and must do better in consistently and unequivocally condemning these groups and do everything we can to heal the deep divisions that exist in our communities," Cohn, who is Jewish, told the Financial Times

He added that no peaceful American citizen deserved to be compared to neo-Nazis, a clear shot at Trump's claim that "very fine people" were protesting on both sides of the issue in Charlottesville.

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“Citizens standing up for equality and freedom can never be equated with white supremacists, neo-Nazis, and the KKK,” Cohn said Friday.

Cohn said he also had private conversations with the president about his thoughts. 

There had been speculation over whether Cohn would resign from the White House after Trump's remarks.

Cohn, a former Goldman Sachs executive, is a top adviser to the president on tax reform and is seen as a key player in that effort this fall. 

Cohn told the Financial Times that he faced "enormous pressure" to resign following Trump's Charlottesville comments.

But he said that neo-Nazis chanting "Jews will not replace us" wouldn't be able to force him from his job.

“As a Jewish American, I will not allow neo-Nazis ranting ‘Jews will not replace us’ to cause this Jew to leave his job. I feel deep empathy for all who have been targeted by these hate groups. We must all unite together against them," Cohn said.

Trump faced heavy criticism after his remarks addressing the violence in Charlottesville, in which he initially blamed "many sides" for the violence, and later doubled down, saying that left-wing protesters charged white supremacist marchers "without a permit."

“You had a lot of people in that group who were there to innocently protest, and very legally protest,” Trump said after the violence. “I don't know if you know. They had a permit. The other group didn't have a permit. So I only tell you this: There are two sides to a story.”