Trump Condemns White Supremacist Groups: ‘Racism Is Evil’

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President Donald Trump condemned the "evil" racism of groups like white supremacists and the Ku Klux Klan in remarks at the White House on Monday, after taking sustained criticism for not specifically naming such organizations in his initial comments on the violence in Charlottesville, Virginia.

"We must rediscover the bonds of love and loyalty, that bring us together as Americans," Trump said at the White House. "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."

"We are a nation founded on the truth that all of us are created equal. We are equal in the eyes of our creator. We are equal under the law, and we are equal under our Constitution. Those who spread violence in the name of bigotry strike at the very core of America."

Violent confrontations between white supremacists and counter-protesters in Charlottesville ultimately led to tragedy, as a man with alt-right ties was arrested for ramming his car into a crowd of counter-protesters in Charlottesville on Saturday, killing one woman, Heather Heyer, and injuring dozens.

Trump memorialized Heyer and the two Virginia state troopers who died in a helicopter accident while doing surveillance work during the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville.

Trump drew anger from both sides of the aisle when he said Saturday that he condemned hatred and bigotry "on many sides" and did not specifically name white supremacists, the Ku Klux Klan or neo-Nazis.

Top Republicans like Sens. Orrin Hatch (R., Utah) and Cory Gardner (R., Col.) encouraged him to specifically call out white supremacists, and other GOP officials forcefully condemned white supremacy as well.

Vice President Mike Pence said Sunday that "we will not tolerate hatred and violence" and said "fringe groups" had no place in the American debate. Pence defended Trump's original statements, however, saying he spoke "plainly" in his condemnation of all organizations that use violence to achieve their ends.

Trump also announced Monday that he had met with FBI Director Christopher Wray and Attorney General Jeff Sessions, saying the Department of Justice had opened a civil rights investigation into the car attack.

"To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend's racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered," Trump said.

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