President Trump’s evolving response to Saturday’s white supremacist terrorist attack in Charlottesville has drawn criticism from both sides of the aisle. Both Republicans and Democrats blasted the president for failing to use his platform on Saturday to call out the violent ideology behind the terrorist attack. By Monday, Trump had changed his tone, calling out the KKK, neo-Nazis and white supremacist groups by name. In between Saturday and Monday, Trump posted a series of tweets about the incident while White House officials went into overdrive to clarify the president’s seemingly ambiguous remarks.
Here’s a complete timeline of Trump’s statements on Charlottesville:
In the immediate aftermath of Saturday’s attack, Trump fell back on Twitter to post his initial thoughts about the incident. Keeping his comments relatively open-ended, Trump said that America should “condemn all that hate stands for.”
We ALL must be united & condemn all that hate stands for. There is no place for this kind of violence in America. Lets come together as one!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Following his tweet, Trump provided a statement at his golf club in Bedford, New Jersey.
“We condemn in the strong possible terms this egregious display of hatred, bigotry and violence on many sides,” Trump said, repeating the phrase “on many sides.”
Presumably, Trump was referring to both alt-right white racists and far-left Antifa rioters. However, the president’s failure to call out Nazi and white supremacist ideology by name was what landed him in hot water. The ambiguity of the president’s remarks led some to believe that Trump didn’t want to call out white supremacists by name because he didn’t want to alienate a viable voting base. The specificity of Trump’s tweets targeting Mitch McConnell, journalists, and others only compounded concerns about Trump’s dog whistle politics.
Trump’s remarks placing blame “on many sides” were coupled with sentiments of unity and sympathy for the victims of the violence in Charlottesville.
We must remember this truth: No matter our color, creed, religion or political party, we are ALL AMERICANS FIRST. pic.twitter.com/FesMiQSKKn— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Deepest condolences to the families & fellow officers of the VA State Police who died today. You're all among the best this nation produces.— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
Condolences to the family of the young woman killed today, and best regards to all of those injured, in Charlottesville, Virginia. So sad!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 12, 2017
It was only after neo-Nazi websites, including The Daily Stormer, praised the president for refusing to “attack” racist groups that President Trump finally came out to condemn white supremacists by name.
Two days after Saturday’s terrorist attack, Trump provided a televised statement at the White House to explicitly call out white supremacist ideology.
“Racism is evil,” Trump stated Monday, adding:
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. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America.
But even after Trump attempted to appease his critics, many continued to criticize him for leaving open the slightest hint of wiggle room. By using the phrase “other hate groups,” Trump failed to shine the spotlight exclusively on white supremacist ideology, complained the president’s critics.