Administration

Republicans rebuke Trump over Charlottesville remarks

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Frustrated Republicans lashed out at President Trump for saying “there is blame on both sides” after violent protests staged by white nationalists over the weekend in Charlottesville, Va.

Trump had been facing criticism for failing to immediately condemn racist protesters, including neo-Nazi groups and the KKK by name, a step he took at a Monday press conference.

But on Tuesday, Trump said the racists were not the only ones responsible for the violence. He also blamed “alt-left” protesters, claiming they ignited violence against the racists by coming at them and “swinging clubs.”

Republicans strongly rebuked the president’s remarks.

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“We must be clear,” Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said on Twitter. “White supremacy is repulsive. This bigotry is counter to all this country stands for. There can be no moral ambiguity.”

Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), who had slammed Trump’s initial failure to condemn white supremacist groups by name, said the organizers of the event — initially meant as a protest against taking down a Confederate statue — are the only ones deserving of blame.

Rep. Will Hurd (R-Texas), who has a black father and white mother, told a story on CNN about how his dad had experienced racism while growing up in Texas.

Hurd noted that former KKK leader David Duke thanked Trump for blaming “alt-left” protesters.

“I don’t think anybody should be looking at getting props from a Grand Dragon of the KKK as any kind of sign of success,” Hurd said.

The Texas Republican said he was not proud of how Trump had initially responded to Charlottesville and that the president had a unique opportunity to fix his error but had failed.

“Apologize,” Hurd said. “Racism, bigotry, anti-Semitism of any form is unacceptable. The leader of the free world should be unambiguous about that.”

GOP Sen. Jerry Moran (Kan.) said that Trump’s remarks were particularly egregious for a sitting president.

Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-La.), the No. 3 Republican in the House, also criticized the comments on Twitter.

“I don’t understand what’s so hard about this,” tweeted Rep. Steve Stivers (Ohio), the head of the National Republican Congressional Committee. “White supremacists and Neo-Nazis are evil and shouldn’t be defended.”

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.) also took to Twitter to criticize Trump.

This story was last updated at 6:57 p.m.

Tags Jerry Moran Marco Rubio Paul Ryan
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