President Trump condemns white supremacists during press conference
WASHINGTON D.C. (KUSI) — As the suspect in the Charlottesville attack made his first court appearance Monday, President Trump condemned the role of white supremacists in the deadly incident after facing criticism over the weekend.
The president also met with his attorney general and FBI director on the matter.
President Trump declared that "racism is evil" as he condemned the KKK, Neo-Nazis and white supremacists as "criminals and thugs."
His remarks were a second attempt at denouncing the violence in Charlottesville Saturday after being criticized for not personally denouncing the white supremacist groups involved, blaming only "many sides."
On Saturday, one woman was killed during a series of clashes between white nationalists and counter protestors, when police said James Alex Fields Jr. drove a car into a crowd of counter-protesters. Two Virginia State Troopers also died in connection to the crash.
The president’s comments Monday mark the first time he denounced the racist groups involved by name since the violence.
On Saturday, he offered a rebuke to those involved, making no mention of the KKK and suggesting both sides shared culpability. The president’s muted response instantly drew criticism from members of his own party, but Monday, he made his message more clear.
"Racism is evil and those who cause violence in its name are criminals and thugs. Including the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans," President Trump said.
Meanwhile, law enforcement is trying to determine how the protests spiraled out of control and whether officials could have done more.
"I certainly have regrets. We lost three lives this weekend. A local citizen and two fellow officers. We certainly have regrets. It was a tragic, tragic weekend," said Chief Al Thomas of the Charlottesville, Virginia Police Department.
White supremacist protesters gathered outside the courthouse where the hearing for the suspect in Saturday’s violence was being held.
James Alex Fields Jr. was not in court though, appearing via video. He is currently being held without bail, pending another hearing scheduled for Aug. 25.
Virginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe is directing his administration to conduct an extensive review of how police prepared and respond to rallies like the one that ended with such deadly violence. The Democratic governor has adamantly supported how police handled Saturday’s protests.