For nearly two days, outrage has steadily increased over President Trump’s refusal to call out Nazis/white supremacists over Charlottesville violence. Instead, he blamed “many sides” for the deadly incidents that left three people dead, including one counterprotester who was allegedly murdered by James Alex Fields Jr. The White House unsuccessfully argued that his condemnation was evident, and Trump still didn’t denounce those groups by name. Since the criticism just wouldn’t stop, Trump made a surprise statement to the media, in which he did specifically condemn these groups.
Trump first addressed jobs and the economy, and he moved onto addressing how he’d met with FBI Director Christopher Wray, who will (alongside Attorney General Jeff Sessions) open a Department of Justice civil rights investigation into the death of Heather Heyer. Trump promised that “justice will be delivered,” and then he — finally — said those words:
“Racism is evil — and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs, including KKK, Neo-Nazis, White Supremacists, and other hate groups are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans. We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our Creator. We are equal under the law. And we are equal under the Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.”
Trump also stressed that all Americans, regardless of race, are subject to the same laws. It was, clearly, a tightly-scripted speech (no ad-libbing this time) and one aimed at mitigating damage, especially after the president lashed out at an African-American CEO when he resigned from a manufacturing council on Monday morning. Trump may have alienated his white nationalist voting base, and the fallout there should be interesting, but will his efforts have any effect on the American public?
You can watch a longer clip of Trump’s relevant comments below.
— CNN (@CNN) August 14, 2017