US President Donald Trump arrives to speak to the press about protests in Charlottesville, at Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey, August 12, 2017. (Photo by AFP)
The White House has defended Donald Trump’s response to the violent clashes in Charlottesville, Virginia, rejecting criticism that the US president refused to condemn white supremacist groups for an attack on anti-racism protesters.
On Saturday, a car smashed into an anti-white supremacy demonstration in Charlottesville, killing one protester and injuring 19 others.
Trump came under bipartisan fire for not directly calling out hate groups in his remarks, and for belatedly tweeting that "many sides" were to blame for the violence.
"The President said very strongly in his statement yesterday that he condemns all forms of violence, bigotry, and hatred," the White House said in a statement,” the White House said in a statement.
"Of course that includes white supremacists, KKK Neo-Nazi and all extremist groups," a spokesperson added. "He called for national unity and bringing all Americans together."
Trump said during an even in Bedminster, New Jersey, that he was not responsible for the crime as similar attacks had already taken place under his predecessors.
"It's been going on for a long time in our country. Not Donald Trump. Not [former President] Barack Obama. This has been going on for a long, long time," he said, before highlighting his accomplishments.
The rally was a response to a white supremacist demonstration. Besides a woman who was killed after being ran over, two police officers also died during the clashes after their helicopter crashed.
David Duke, the former KKK leader and a strong Trump supporter, said during the rally that the new developments signaled the fulfillment of the Republican president’s vision for America.
“We are determined to take our country back,” Duke said from the rally, calling it a “turning point.” “We are going to fulfill the promises of Donald Trump. That’s what we believed in. That’s why we voted for Donald Trump, because he said he’s going to take our country back.”
Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Republican, called for a straightforward condemnation from Trump, urging him to denounce the car incident as a “terror attack by white supremacists.”
The Republican senator Cory Gardner of Colorado also tweeted that Trump “must call evil by its name,” calling the attack “domestic terrorism.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement that Trump must condemn the events because they go “against everything the American flag stands for.”

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