Deputy AG Rosenstein: Charlottesville marchers advocated 'racism and bigotry'

Deputy AG Rosenstein: Charlottesville marchers advocated 'racism and bigotry'
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Deputy Attorney General Rod RosensteinRod RosensteinDemocrats ask judge to force McGahn to comply with subpoena Democrats ask court to force DOJ's hand on Mueller grand jury materials Washington celebrates diplomacy — and baseball — at Meridian Ball MORE on Wednesday said the country saw “people openly advocate racism and bigotry” when hate groups gathered in Charlottesville, Va., earlier this month.

“Our Department of Justice responded immediately. We are working closely with local authorities on potential criminal civil rights prosecutions,” Rosenstein said during a speech at an antiterrorism conference in Utah, according to his prepared remarks.

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“The First Amendment often protects hateful speech that is abhorrent to American values. But there can be no safe harbor for violence,” he added.

Rosenstein’s remarks about Charlottesville follow widespread criticism of President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump reversed course on flavored e-cigarette ban over fear of job losses: report Trump to award National Medal of Arts to actor Jon Voight Sondland notified Trump officials of investigation push ahead of Ukraine call: report MORE for his response to the violence in the town.

White supremacists rallied in Charlottesville to protest the decision to remove a statue of Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. One person was killed and many injured when a man with ties to hate groups allegedly drove his car into a crowd of counterprotestors.

Trump on separate occasions blamed “many sides” and “both sides” for the violence.

Rosenstein in his comments also highlighted the danger of domestic terrorism, arguing it “is often motivated by hatred and bigotry.”

“Violent domestic extremists pose a particular danger to law enforcement officers — not just because you go into dangerous situations, but because some extremist groups target the police,” he said earlier in the speech.

He is the second high-profile Jewish official in the Trump administration to speak out on Charlottesville in recent days. Last week, Gary Cohn, Trump’s top economic official, said the administration should do more to condemn hate groups.