VA chief: 'Dishonor' to US veterans for Nazis to go unchallenged

Veterans Affairs Secretary David ShulkinDavid Jonathon ShulkinTrump sent policy pitch from Mar-a-Lago member to VA secretary: report Is a presidential appointment worth the risk? It’s time to end the scare tactics and get to work for our veterans MORE fiercely condemned white nationalists on Wednesday, saying that it is a "dishonor" to American veterans for neo-Nazis "to go unchallenged."

In a short press briefing in Bedminster, N.J., Shulkin denounced white supremacists and hate groups that fed the violence in Charlottesville, Va., over the weekend, saying their ideology and behavior is an "affront to American ideals."

"It is a dishonor to our country's veterans to allow the Nazis and the white supremacists to go unchallenged," Shulkin said. "And I am strongly against them, and I believe that we have to all speak up as Americans."

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The secretary's comments came as criticism continued to mount around President Trump after he equated white nationalists to the protesters opposing them.

Trump criticized what he deemed the "alt-left" in a fiery news conference on Tuesday, during which he said that "both sides" should be blamed for the bloody demonstrations. 

The "alt-left," he said, responded violently to white nationalist and neo-Nazi groups protesting the city of Charlottesville's decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee from a park.

Trump drew bipartisan criticism for claiming there were "very fine people" on both sides of the argument.

Shulkin said Wednesday that he could not speak for the president, but told reporters that Trump was outraged by the violence during the Saturday demonstrations that left a woman dead and at least 19 injured. 

"I think the president has done a good job of speaking for himself," Shulkin said. "He's made clear his comments. He's denounced bigotry, hatred, violence, Nazis, white supremacists — and I think that he can speak for himself."