Trump urged to slam white na­tion­al­ism

Repub­li­cans want no ties to demon­stra­tors in Char­lottesville

The Washington Times Daily - - FRONT PAGE - BY BEN WOLF­GANG

As the dust set­tled after Satur­day’s deadly white na­tion­al­ist rally in Char­lottesville, Pres­i­dent Trump was stung by a po­lit­i­cal back­lash from both sides, with lead­ing Repub­li­cans con­demn­ing what they saw as a tepid re­sponse and a fail­ure to call evil by its name.

After a coun­ter­protester was killed when a car plowed into her and two Vir­ginia state troop­ers died in a he­li­copter crash, the pres­i­dent had an opportunity to dis­pense fully with the no­tion that he wel­comed the sup­port of fringe right-wing groups, neo-Nazis, white su­prem­a­cists and anti-Semites.

Such charges have dogged Mr. Trump since the be­gin­ning of his pres­i­den­tial cam­paign, and his vice pres­i­dent used a trip to South America to push back against the charge.

Pow­er­ful fig­ures in the Repub­li­can Party say the pres­i­dent squan­dered that opportunity with a Satur­day state­ment that con­demned vi­o­lence and big­otry in broad terms but blamed ten­sions on “many sides.” The state­ment made no men­tion of the white na­tion­al­ist groups that per­pe­trated the fa­tal gath­er­ing.

“These groups seem to be­lieve they have a friend in Don­ald Trump in the White House. … I would urge the pres­i­dent to dis­suade these groups that he’s their friend,” Sen. Lindsey Gra­ham, South Carolina Repub­li­can, said on “Fox News Sun­day.”

“I think the pres­i­dent can be very clear when he wants to be, and he needs to be clear here,” he said.

Other Repub­li­can sen­a­tors, in­clud­ing Or­rin G. Hatch of Utah, Cory Gard­ner of Colorado, Ted Cruz of Texas, Marco Ru­bio of Florida and oth­ers con­demned the deadly demon­stra­tion. But Mr. Trump’s han­dling of the sit­u­a­tion fu­eled com­men­tary that he is com­fort­able with the sup­port of white na­tion­al­ist groups, some of which praised his re­marks and said they amounted to a vic­tory be­cause they didn’t ex­plic­itly blame

any­one for the vi­o­lence.

On Sun­day night, Vice Pres­i­dent Mike Pence de­nounced such white su­prem­a­cists as “dan­ger­ous fringe groups” and said Mr. Trump shares his views.

“We have no tol­er­ance for hate and vi­o­lence from white su­prem­a­cists, neoNazis or the KKK,” Mr. Pence said at a press con­fer­ence in Carta­gena, Colom­bia. “These dan­ger­ous fringe groups have no place in Amer­i­can pub­lic life and in the Amer­i­can de­bate, and we con­demn them in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms.”

Mr. Gard­ner on Sun­day urged the pres­i­dent to speak out again in more force­ful terms and make clear that the Repub­li­can Party does not wel­come such views. A fail­ure to do that, the se­na­tor said, makes it fair to ques­tion if Mr. Trump wants to re­main pop­u­lar among white na­tion­al­ists.

“Call this white supremacism, this white na­tion­al­ism, evil, and let the coun­try hear it, let the world hear it. It’s some­thing that needs to come from the Oval Of­fice,” Mr. Gard­ner said on CNN’s “State of the Union” pro­gram. “If he doesn’t do that, then we can con­tinue to an­swer the ques­tion of why.”

But the vice pres­i­dent crit­i­cized such ac­cu­sa­tions that Mr. Trump has not spo­ken out strongly enough or specif­i­cally enough.

“I take is­sue with the fact that many in the na­tional me­dia spent more time crit­i­ciz­ing the pres­i­dent’s words than they did crit­i­ciz­ing those that per­pe­trated the vi­o­lence to be­gin with,” Mr. Pence said. “We should be putting the at­ten­tion where it be­longs, and that is on those ex­trem­ist groups that need to be pushed out of the pub­lic de­bate en­tirely and dis­cred­ited for the hate groups and dan­ger­ous fringe groups that they are.”

The demon­stra­tion in Char­lottesville, dubbed “Unite the Right,” was or­ga­nized un­der the pre­text of protest­ing the city’s re­moval of Con­fed­er­ate monuments.

Vir­ginia Gov. Terry McAuliffe, a Demo­crat, de­clared a state of emer­gency for the demon­stra­tion be­cause he and other state of­fi­cials wor­ried that es­ca­lat­ing ten­sions would re­sult in vi­o­lence. Those fears proved cor­rect Satur­day af­ter­noon when a car drove head-on into a crowd of coun­ter­protesters, claim­ing the life of Heather Heyer, 32, of Vir­ginia and in­jur­ing at least 19 oth­ers.

James Alex Fields Jr. has been charged with se­cond-de­gree mur­der and is sched­uled to be ar­raigned Mon­day. Be­fore the in­ci­dent, he was pic­tured in a Van­guard America uni­form of khaki pants and a white polo shirt, The As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported.

The Anti-Defama­tion League says Van­guard America be­lieves the U.S. is an ex­clu­sively white na­tion.

Two Vir­ginia state troop­ers, Lt. H. Jay Cullen and pi­lot Berke M.M. Bate, died when their chop­per crashed out­side the city just be­fore 5 p.m. Satur­day. They were con­duct­ing aerial sur­veil­lance of the demon­stra­tion.

Char­lottesville was still on edge Sun­day as the or­ga­nizer of the alt-right rally was chased away from a news con­fer­ence.

“That hate that you hear around you, that is the anti-white hate,” Ja­son Kessler said as he was be­ing booed at a news con­fer­ence in down­town Char­lottesville.

Video of the event showed Mr. Kessler be­ing shouted down and blamed for the vi­o­lence. He then runs from the mob into a po­lice sta­tion, pro­tected by of­fi­cers.

One man spat on Mr. Kessler, and state po­lice told re­porters that the Char­lottesville man was charged with mis­de­meanor as­sault and bat­tery.

“I knew going in that I was putting my life in my hands. That’s prob­a­bly the last time I’m going to do that for quite some time,” Mr. Kessler said in a video he posted after the news con­fer­ence.

As of­fi­cials of all po­lit­i­cal stripes heaped con­dem­na­tion on the rally and the au­to­mo­bile as­sault, Mr. Trump spoke from his golf club in New Jersey, where he is va­ca­tion­ing.

“We con­demn in the strong­est pos­si­ble terms this egre­gious dis­play of ha­tred, big­otry and vi­o­lence on many sides — on many sides,” he said, adding that the di­vi­sions on dis­play in Char­lottesville have been brew­ing for many years.

“Not Don­ald Trump, not Barack Obama — it’s been going on for a long, long time,” the pres­i­dent said.

As the pres­i­dent came un­der fire for his stance, his at­tor­ney gen­eral, Jeff Ses­sions, an­nounced late Satur­day night that he was launch­ing a civil rights in­ves­ti­ga­tion into the protest.

“The vi­o­lence and deaths in Char­lottesville strike at the heart of Amer­i­can law and jus­tice,” Mr. Ses­sions said. “When such ac­tions arise from racial big­otry and ha­tred, they be­tray our core val­ues and can­not be tol­er­ated.”

By Sun­day morn­ing, ad­min­is­tra­tion of­fi­cials were rush­ing to con­tain the dam­age of Mr. Trump’s brief com­ments and to stress that the pres­i­dent was in no way of­fer­ing a dog whis­tle to ex­treme groups.

A White House spokesper­son told re­porters in New Jersey that the pres­i­dent’s broad con­dem­na­tion of evil ex­tended to all white su­prem­a­cist and neo-Nazi or­ga­ni­za­tions.

Of­fi­cials ap­pear­ing on Sun­day morn­ing talk shows said the same.

“I, for one, was with the pres­i­dent yes­ter­day and proud of the fact he stood up

and calmly looked into the cam­era and con­demned this vi­o­lence and big­otry in all its forms,” White House Home­land Se­cu­rity Ad­viser Tom Bossert told CNN.

Pressed on why the pres­i­dent didn’t specif­i­cally name white na­tion­al­ists or other groups at the heart of Satur­day’s vi­o­lence, Mr. Bossert went fur­ther.

“I con­demn white su­prem­a­cists and racists and white Nazi groups and all the other groups that es­pouse this kind of ha­tred and ex­clu­sion,” he said.

First daugh­ter Ivanka Trump took to Twit­ter Sun­day morn­ing, say­ing over two posts that “there should be no place in so­ci­ety for racism, white supremacy and neo-nazis. We must all come to­gether as Amer­i­cans — and be one coun­try UNITED. #Char­lottesville.”

White House Na­tional Se­cu­rity Ad­viser H.R. McMaster said the vi­o­lence amounted to do­mes­tic ter­ror­ism — a term the pres­i­dent did not use in his speech Satur­day.

“I cer­tainly think any time that you com­mit an at­tack against peo­ple to in­cite fear, it is ter­ror­ism. It meets the def­i­ni­tion of ter­ror­ism,” Mr. McMaster told ABC’s “This Week” pro­gram.

But the White House’s at­tempts at dam­age con­trol weren’t enough for crit­ics, who laid at least part of the blame di­rectly at the feet of Mr. Trump.

The Rev. Jesse Jack­son sug­gested that the white na­tion­al­ist move­ment has been em­bold­ened partly be­cause of Mr. Trump’s five-year “birther” cam­paign against former Pres­i­dent Barack Obama, which some viewed as a bla­tantly racist charge.

“We are in a very dan­ger­ous place right now,” Mr. Jack­son said.

Mr. McAuliffe, who talked to the pres­i­dent via phone Satur­day, said Mr. Trump “needs to come out stronger” against white su­prem­a­cist groups.

Char­lottesville Mayor Michael Signer was even more di­rect, say­ing the seeds for Satur­day’s vi­o­lence were planted dur­ing Mr. Trump’s pres­i­den­tial bid.

“Look at the cam­paign he ran,” Mr. Signer told CNN. “Look at the in­ten­tional court­ing, on one hand, of all these white su­prem­a­cists, white na­tion­al­ists … and look on the other hand at the re­peated fail­ure to step up, con­demn, de­nounce, si­lence, put to bed all of these dif­fer­ent ef­forts, just like we saw yes­ter­day. This isn’t hard.”


PLACE OF PEACE: A makeshift memo­rial hon­ors Heather Heyer, who was killed Satur­day while protest­ing the pres­ence of white su­prem­a­cists in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia. Story, A9.


Brit­tney Cain-Con­ley (with hat), lead or­ga­nizer for Con­gre­gate Char­lottesville, got a hug from a sup­porter after ad­dress­ing the crowd dur­ing a vigil on Sun­day for vic­tims of a Satur­day at­tack in Char­lottesville, Vir­ginia, that killed a woman and in­jured a dozen oth­ers.



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