President Donald Trump has officially condemned the white nationalists who engaged in a violent weekend rally in Charlottesville, Virginia. The president had generated controversy with his initial remarks over the rally, with critics accusing him of refusing to condemn white nationalism.
On Aug. 14, Trump blasted the white nationalist groups who had demonstrated for two days in Virginia.
"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 that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," Trump said from White House's Diplomatic Reception Room, according to KSWB.
On Aug. 11, white nationalists gathered in Charlottesville to protest the city's removal of a monument to Confederate Gen. Robert E. Lee. On Aug. 12, hundreds of white nationalists held a rally in the city, violently clashing with counter-protesters, KABC reports.
The demonstration took a murderous turn when 20-year-old James Alex Fields drove his car into a crowd of anti-racist protesters, killing 32-year-old Heather Heyer and injuring 19 others.
Later that day, Trump condemned the violence at the rally but did not single out the white nationalists in his remarks.
"We condemn in the strongest possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides, on many sides," Trump said from his golf resort in Bedminster, New Jersey, according to NBC News.
Journalists on the scene repeatedly asked Trump if he would condemn the white nationalist movement, but the president declined to specifically do so.
Trump's remarks were widely panned by Democrats and Republicans alike.
"Mr. President -- we must call evil by its name," GOP Sen. Cory Gardner of Colorado tweeted.
"Violence, chaos, and apparent loss of life in Charlottesville is not the fault of 'many sides,'" tweeted Democratic Attorney General Mark Herring of Virginia. "It is racists and white supremacists."
In his Aug. 14 remarks, Trump vowed that anyone who committed violence during the Charlottesville rally would be arrested.
"To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable," Trump said. "Justice will be delivered."
Ana Navarro, a Republican contributor to CNN, said on social media that Trump's latest remarks had arrived too late to be effective.
"If Trump had given speech like this on Saturday, we'd have commended him," Navarro tweeted out. "On Monday, it does nothing for me. Zero. I suspect, I'm not alone."