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Trump Condemns Violence in Charlottesville, Calls Racism ‘Evil’ 

click to enlarge James Alex Fields, Jr., center with black shield, gathered with other demonstrators at a statue of Robert E. Lee that was planned to be removed in Charlottesville, Va., during a so-called “Unite the Right” rally, Aug. 12, 2017. Fields, suspected of ramming his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, an attack that authorities said left one person dead and 19 more injured, was denied bail during his first court appearance in a downtown courtroom on Monday. - MATT EICH/THE NEW YORK TIMES
  • Matt Eich/The New York Times
  • James Alex Fields, Jr., center with black shield, gathered with other demonstrators at a statue of Robert E. Lee that was planned to be removed in Charlottesville, Va., during a so-called “Unite the Right” rally, Aug. 12, 2017. Fields, suspected of ramming his car into a crowd in Charlottesville, an attack that authorities said left one person dead and 19 more injured, was denied bail during his first court appearance in a downtown courtroom on Monday.

By GLENN THRUSH
© 2017 New York Times News Service

WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump bowed on Monday to overwhelming pressure that he personally condemn white supremacists who incited bloody demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend, labeling their racist views “evil” after two days of equivocal statements.

“Racism is evil,” said Trump, delivering a statement from the White House at a hastily arranged appearance meant to halt the growing political threat posed by the situation. “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.”

Several of the Trump’s top advisers, including his new chief of staff, John F. Kelly, pressed Trump to issue a more forceful rebuke after his comment on Saturday that the violence in Charlottesville was initiated by “many sides,” prompting nearly universal criticism.

That pressure appeared to reach the boiling point early Monday after the president attacked the head of the pharmaceuticals company Merck, who is black, for quitting an advisory board over the president’s initial failure to criticize white nationalists.

Even after a wave of disapproval that encompassed a majority of Senate Republicans, Donald Trump seemed reluctant to tackle the issue head-on when he appeared before the cameras on Monday.

He first offered a lengthy and seemingly out-of-place recitation of his accomplishments on the economy, trade and job creation. When he did address the violence in Charlottesville, he did not apologize, but presented his corrective as an update on the Department of Justice civil rights investigation into the death of a woman who was allegedly hit by a car driven by an Ohio protester with ties to neo-Nazi groups.

“To anyone who acted criminally in this weekend’s racist violence, you will be held fully accountable. Justice will be delivered,” he said.

The president called for racial harmony in his remarks on Monday.

“As I have said many times before, no matter the color of our skin, we all live under the same laws,” he said. “We all salute the same great flag, and we are all made by the same almighty God.”
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