President Donald Trump, under heavy political pressure from Democrats and Republicans alike, on Monday condemned white supremacists who rallied in Virginia over the weekend, sparking violence that claimed one life.
Nearly 48 hours after violence engulfed Charlottesville, Va., President Trump called out white nationalist groups by name. But he will likely be unable to escape questions and criticism for his initial response to the Saturday's violence, for which he blamed bigotry on "many sides".
After President Trump "both sides"-ed the hatred and violence seen in Charlottesville over the weekend, he was castigated by many, included fellow Republicans, for not condemning white supremacists specifically - which was roundly praised by, you guessed it, white supremacists".
A 32-year-old woman, Heather Heyer, from Charlottesville was killed and almost a score injured on Saturday when a auto, allegedly driven by a white supremacist, hit a crowd. Twenty-year-old James Alex Fields Jr. of OH is charged with second-degree murder and other counts. A new White House statement on Sunday explicitly denounced the Ku Klux Klan and neo-Nazi groups, but it was attributed to an unnamed spokesperson and not the president himself. He said that the Department of Justice had opened a civil rights investigation into the vehicle attack.
Graham, the president of Samaritan's Purse, an global relief organization based in Boone, wrote on his Facebook page on Sunday, "Shame on the politicians who're making an attempt to push blame on President Trump for what happened in Charlottesville, Va".
"We have so many incredible things happening in our country", he said Saturday, "so when I watch Charlottesville, to me it is very, very sad".
He did not directly mention Trump's earlier response to this weekend's violent clashes, but said "as CEO of Merck and as a matter of personal conscience I feel a responsibility to take a stand against intolerance and extremism".
For Trump's detractors, the statement is obviously too little, too late.
Trump's approval ratings have also fallen in light of the Charlottesville violence, according to a Gallup tracking poll released Monday which found that 34 percent of Americans approved of his job performance.
Chair of the Democratic National Committee Tom Perez also criticized Trump's delay, writing: "History won't forget that when the streets of Charlottesville echoed with evil, Donald Trump responded with silence".
During the 2016 campaign, Trump came under fire for not immediately disavowing the endorsement of David Duke, a former KKK grand wizard. "They will blast him for not saying this sooner and not being harsh enough", one user cautioned. Such monuments have been flashpoints in the United States, viewed by many Americans as symbols of racism because of the Confederate defence of slavery in the Civil War.
Since then, Trump has enacted several days of white supremacist-pleasing silence on these groups' responsibility for the terror in Charlottesville before finally being forced to read a perfunctory condemnation. A woman was killed, along with two Virginia State troopers when the helicopter they were using on patrol crashed.